Mixed responses on 'strange' first day without masks indoors
Restriction still in place on public transport as well as in pharmacies and hospitals
Face masks do not have to be worn in most indoor settings as of Wednesday for the first time in almost two years, with exceptions for public transport, pharmacies, hospitals and primary care centers, or nursing homes, among other medical settings.
And as the threat of Covid ebbs – the hospitalization rate dropped from 7% at the beginning of the pandemic to 1.19% last winter – people must now get used to seeing strangers' faces once again.
In Barcelona's Eixample district, both workers and customers in many establishments continued to wear masks – something that the elderly and other vulnerable groups are still advised to do.
Diana, a worker at a Dia supermarket, told Catalan News that her managers had informed all employees that they still had to wear masks for health and safety purposes.
"Customers don't have to, but the company has told us that we still do as we see so many people every day," she said, adding that she found it "strange" to see maskless people in the store again after such a long time.
Similarly, a woman who worked at a beauty salon said she preferred wearing a mask as she is in close contact with many customers all day long. "People can come in without them, but I prefer to keep my mask on," she said. Indeed, Spain's health minister Carolina Darias confirmed that shops cannot force customers to wear a mask and cannot deny customers entry to the store for refusing to wear one.
Others, such as a man who works at a fruit and vegetable shop on Carrer de Girona, said he thought "it was about time" the restriction was lifted, although he agreed with masks still being worn in hospitals and public transport.
"Why should I have to mask in my properly ventilated store when people haven't been wearing them in clubs?" he asked.
A worker at an art supply store who did not wear a mask, meanwhile, said he wasn't too familiar with the current regulation: "Wasn't it lifted yesterday?"
Catalonia removed masks in primary and secondary schools on Tuesday, a day before the rest of Spain, while now they are not obligatory in all education centers.