Face mask no longer compulsory outdoors from June 26

Measure announced by Spanish president will affect whole of Spain after 13-month obligation

People strolling in Lleida with face masks on May 4, 2021 (by Oriol Bosch)
People strolling in Lleida with face masks on May 4, 2021 (by Oriol Bosch) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 18, 2021 11:40 AM

Wearing a face mask will no longer be compulsory in Catalonia and across Spain outdoors from June 26.

Spanish president Pedro Sánchez announced this major measure on Friday in Barcelona, during a speech in the annual economic forum organized by the Cercle d'Economia forum

"I would like to begin making a very important announcement for our over 47 million compatriots," the Socialist leader said. "Next Thursday we will hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting and we will propose to Spanish society that the use of face masks outdoors not be compulsory from Saturday, June 26."

The executive will amend the law regulating the use of face masks and the ease restriction will come into effect on Saturday, June 26. 

For him, the continued improvement of the pandemic situation enables this decision. 

The Catalan health ministier, Josep Maria Argimon, has shown before he is in favour of lifting the obligation to wear masks outdoors "in certain situations."

Covid outbreak risk below 'high' threshold

On June 7, the Covid outbreak risk indicator fell below the 'high' threshold in Catalonia for the first time in 11 months.

The outbreak risk is considered to be low at 30, moderate at 70, high at 100 and very high at 200. It is calculated using an iEPG index - found by multiplying the average spread of the virus over the past seven days by the cumulative incidence over the past two weeks.   

The figure had reached 904 in October 2020, 794 in January 16, 2021 and 360 a few days after Easter this year. As of June 17, 2021, this indicator stands at 80.

Face masks compulsory since May 2020

Face masks first became obligatory for all commuters on public transport in Catalonia and the rest of Spain on May 4, 2020. Two weeks later, the Spanish government made them compulsory both indoors and outdoors, "if it is not possible to guarantee a minimum safety distance of two meters." When the first state of alarm was lifted the following month, masks remained a requirement

On July 9, 2020, the Catalan government enhanced the restriction making them compulsory even when safety distancing could be guaranteed. This was matched at a Spanish level in March 2021

The measure has been applying to adults and children over the age of six in both outdoor and indoor public spaces.

Vaccine rollout key for ease of measures

The move announced by Sánchez is also the result of the vaccine rollout picking up pace. Over 2 million residents in Catalonia out of the 7.7 million inhabitants are already completely inoculated, and over 80% of the people over the age of 50 has at least received the first dose.

Indeed, as of June 17, 2021, 3,589,511 residents have been given at least a first dose of the vaccine, 45.8% of the total population. Out of those, 2,017,431 have also been administered a second dose (25.7% of the total population). 2,207,911 residents are considered to be fully immunized (28.1%).

Under 65s who have already had the virus are only required to have the first dose, and others have received a single-dose jab. Therefore, the % of two doses administered and % fully immunized do not match.

On Thursday, it was announced that people born between 1982 and 1986 can book their Covid-19 vaccination appointments.