"We are concerned that in the busy streets and summer parties no one wears a mask"

They warn that if social distances are not maintained there will be a rebound in cases at all ages and urges the Administration to demand them in crowded areas.

A group of tourists wear masks.Jon NazcaREUTERS

The autonomous communities received yesterday the information of a draft of the norm that is expected to be approved today in the extraordinary Council of Ministers announced by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, to end the obligation to use face mask in open spaces.

It was at the meeting of the Interterritorial Health Council where the details were known, after having denounced several of them, such as Madrid, Castilla y Len or Galicia, having learned from the press of the government’s intention to suppress the use of outdoor masks. , a decision that, however, has been celebrated from the autonomous communities.

In the absence of knowing the fine print of the norm, the medical associations have issued a statement in which they express their concern about the elimination of masks in the current context of increasing cases of the delta variant and still low vaccination rates, which barely exceed 31% of those immunized with the complete regimen (50.1% of the population with at least one dose) and who are still far from allowing immunity It is estimated that it could be reached with 70% of the vaccinated population, something that is not anticipated until the end of August.

What do doctors think about the flexibility of the standard?

Medical colleges urge the Ministry of Health to not to eliminate this obligation of outdoor masks in general but to regulate it in a concrete way. “We are concerned that in the bustling streets and squares of the summer festivals in Spain no one wears a mask next week and that, in addition, when entering and leaving the premises near them, fewer and fewer people protect themselves with them, for what we call the attention to the Ministry of Health and the Government of the nation to regulate in a concrete way its still necessary use “, affirms the Collegiate Medical Organization.

Doctors warn that currently in Spain “most people under the age of 50 have not yet received their first dose, and many people older than that age are waiting to receive their second dose of the anticovid vaccine, so they cannot be considered immune […] and among those under 45 there have also been many serious cases and hospitalizations. “

In addition, “among the vaccinated elderly there will always be a minimum percentage of around 5% that are not protected and could be infected if the virus increases its circulation,” they warn.

That is why his recommendation to the Government is “that the device terms of the abolition of the compulsory nature are well defined and delimited of the masks in outdoor spaces, since if the adequate safety distance is not maintained, new infections, outbreaks and spikes of the infection will occur in the middle of summer, among people of all ages “.

His vision is very similar to that of the Spanish Epidemiology Society (SEE), which also asks to put limits on this removal of the mask, especially in crowded areas and if distances are not maintained.

“The levels that are considered to consider that there is group immunity are levels higher than 70% of immunized and we do not have it yet. That does not mean that until we have immunized to 70% some measures cannot be relaxed. Using a mask outdoors is probably the easiest measure to eliminate. But if people from different groups come together next and without social distance we will have ups and downs and a big problem. Mask removal cannot be done universally. In places where many people are concentrated, such as commercial areas, for example, they should not be eliminated, nor in transport, of course, “says ngela Domnguez, coordinator of the Working Group on Vaccination of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology.

The Collegiate Medical Organization goes further in its fear of too much de-escalation taking into account the current vaccination level. According to medical colleges, the widespread use of masks “represents a true paradigm shift, by radically reducing infection rates.”

Vaccination as a brake on infections

“With the arrival of the vaccine -the doctors warn-, a euphoria has been inexplicably promoted about the end of the pandemic that has been anticipated too many months on the objective reality that, to date, is of slow and progressive improvement in the incidence, but with real threats such as the emergence of the delta variant and others of importance, that darken the future to which we are heading, presumably that of the endemization of the infection by SARS-CoV-2 “.

“The setbacks in the United Kingdom and Israel should serve as a warning”, sentence the medical associations referring to the decision of the two leaders in vaccination to delay their final de-escalation by a month, in the case of the United Kingdom, require again in some localities the use of masks, in the case of Israel, given the rebound in cases and the extension of the delta variant.

Spain’s decision to eliminate outdoor masks comes after the same type of de-escalation in recent weeks in countries such as Hungary, Belgium or France and just a few months after, in March, the PSOE introduced an amendment at the last minute in the Senate to the so-called new normality law, Law 2/2021, of March 29, to, precisely, the opposite, toughen this obligation by eliminating from the legal text the exception of not wearing a mask if a minimum distance between individuals is maintained of 1.5 meters and demanding it, from now on, in all cases.

Currently, most of the European countries that have imposed the mask outdoors have been relaxing the conditions or eliminating directly this obligation that remains in place in countries such as Italy, Greece or Romania.

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