Questions and answers: how has the mask law changed since Saturday?

Where can we remove the mask from Saturday?

In outdoor spaces, as long as it is maintained a distance from other people of at least 1.5 meters (unless they are cohabiting).

“We have only eliminated the mask obligation in those (situations) where we know there is less risk of transmission“, has assured Carolina Darias, Minister of Health.

Where will its mandatory use be maintained?

In any type of public transport or if we meet people with whom we have to interact on the street.

Indoors, like “a pharmacy or a supermarket“, Darias has given as an example, it is still mandatory to wear a mask.

What about outdoor concerts and events?

Be mandatory at large events, even in open spaces, when the public is standing. For example, at an open-air concert, unless the audience is seated and distance is maintained meter and a half.

Should I wear a mask in sports stadiums?

At the same time that the use of outdoor masks has been made more flexible, the article of the New Normal Law that limited the capacity at sporting events has been eliminated. The public recovers in the football stadiums and basketball courts.

Taking into account the general criteria, it is mandatory to wear a mask in closed areas, such as basketball courts, and also in open stadiums where distance is not maintained. As for the public limits, “the autonomous authorities will have to determine the capacity,” explained Darias. “To be the return to normality with joy, but complying with what we have just approved,” he said.

In which interiors is the mask removed?

Stop being mandatory in those nursing homes or other institutionalized spaces where 80% of the population of the residence is vaccinated.

But it will be mandatory for the people who work in that residence, because they are coming and going, and also for visitors.

And in the interior spaces of essential professionals?

In units dedicated to special services, such as “a fire station“, Darias has exemplified, it is not mandatory to wear a mask as long as at least 80% are already vaccinated.

What will be its use in public transport?

Its use on any means of public transport must be mandatory: planes, trains, buses, taxi, boat … On boats or ships, its use on deck is not mandatory if an interpersonal distance of 1.5 meters is maintained, and not on private cabins.

Therefore, if a person goes out for a walk, but later decides to take public transport, You will not be able to go up if you have not worn a mask saved.

What technical criteria has inspired the Royal Decree?

“It is not mandatory to wear a mask outdoors or in open spaces, as long as we respect the interpersonal distance of one and a half meters.” That is, in the words of Darias, and with the exception of cohabiting people, the fundamental criterion on which the new regulations are based. “I know it will be mandatory”, therefore, “if there are crowds that prevent us from keeping our distance“, the minister clarified.

In what specific situations should you continue with a mask and in which ones not?

The literality of the Decree Law, according to the criteria set forth, leads to numerous situations in which the use of a mask is still mandatory, even outdoors, and especially in large cities. Whenever it is not possible to maintain a minimum distance of one and a half meters with a non-living person, it will be necessary to wear a mask. For example, when several pedestrians wait at a traffic light or when the sidewalk gets crowded.

How does the new standard translate into day-to-day practice?

In practice, the new law is similar to the one approved in June 2020, which also established the need to wear a mask if distance could not be maintained and that, in practice, it was never fulfilled in its literal sense: Many people wore the mask on the street, but whoever decided not to do it, did not put it on suddenly when the sidewalk was full of people or they passed very close to someone.

The same situation has been experienced with tobacco throughout the course: the mandatory use of a mask has been respected in the majority, but not the need to keep a minimum distance when you are smoking. In fact, if a terrace where smoking is allowed is attached to the sidewalk and there is not enough width to pass through, it is physically impossible to comply with the norm, a situation that occurs on many occasions and that, until now, had been compensated with the use universal mask.

What if an autonomous community does not want to adopt it?

It is a norm of mandatory application throughout the national territory. Andalusia, which has the highest incidence in Spain in recent days, has been against the legislative change and continues to recommend the use of outdoor masks, although it is no longer mandatory. Catalonia and Extremadura have already expressed their fear that we must backtrack against possible rebound in summer.

What does science say about face masks in relation to SARS-CoV-2?

Scientific knowledge about the transmission routes of the virus has advanced throughout the pandemic. In the last spring, both the World Health Organization (WHO) as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the USA and the Ministry of Health of Spain have modified their descriptions of contagion mechanisms to give more weight to aerosols, whose risk is greater indoors.

However, the classic distinction between aerosols – which remain floating in the air like clouds of smoke – and droplets – which fall on surfaces – is also being revised. Although there is consensus that indoor spaces are more dangerous, both the WHO and the CDC emphasize that the greatest risk of infection occurs at short distances, typically one meter or less. Therefore, it is possible to be infected outdoors, and hence the need to maintain interpersonal distance when we remove the mask outdoors.

Indoors, in addition, it is possible to be infected more than a meter away, and even when the infective person has already left the room, because the aerosol clouds can remain in the air and move from one place to another. Hence the importance of good ventilation and avoiding crowds in closed spaces, in addition to continuing to use the mask in these places.

What have other countries done and what levels of vaccination did they have?

Comparing preventive measures and their actual effect on populations in different countries is an arduous task, often misleading. For example, Israel and the US lifted the requirement to wear masks in many situations in April and May, respectively. Israel did it when more than 60% of the population had received at least one dose; The US, while approaching 50%, a situation similar to ours now.

In both cases, however, the decision was made when the vaccination campaign, which had progressed much faster during the winter, began to stagnate. Both Israel and the US show a significant reduction in the rate of immunization from the dates on which, precisely, the use of masks was liberalized, so the measure can be understood as an incentive for the population with greater doubts to go to get vaccinated: the more people do it, the sooner the restrictions go away. The same is not the case in Spain, where the percentage of vaccination is still advancing at a good pace.

In Europe, countries such as France or the city of Brussels, in Belgium, have withdrawn the obligation to wear masks in recent weeks. France did so after having more than 58% of the population with at least one dose – Spain has just exceeded 50% – and Belgium has administered almost 10 million doses to a total population of 11.5 million people. In fact, anyone who wants to receive the single-dose Janssen vaccine can do so now without an appointment in various parts of the country. Both Belgium (73.1) and France (59.8) have incidences below the Spanish (92,57).

How many mask laws have there been and what are their differences?

The first regulation that made the use of masks mandatory was Royal Decree Law 21/2020, published on June 9, 2020, “on urgent prevention, containment and coordination measures to face the health crisis caused by COVID-19. “. That decree already established the mandatory use of masks for people over six years of age, both in open and closed spaces, as long as the safety distance cannot be maintained.

The exponential increase in shoots in summer and the general confusion about the distance criterion, impossible to comply with in practice on a narrow sidewalk, for example, led the autonomous communities to tighten the norm on their own, each at their own pace. At the beginning of the fall, with the second wave almost on top, they had all done it.

Finally, the June 2020 regulation was processed as a bill and gave rise to the Law of Normality 2/21 of March 29, 2021, which was criticized for extending the use to any situation, even if it was alone in a situation. open space. The new Royal Decree aims to put the situation in order and return to criteria similar to those of last summer, although it remains to be seen how casustic is defined by the Alerts and Alerts Report. what is the actual compliance with the standard by the population.


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