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Spain drops outdoor mask requirement


Spain first imposed obligatory mask-wearing outdoors in May 2020, but lifted it in June last year.

FILE: Wearing a face covering was still required for indoor public spaces. Picture: Unsplash.com

MADRID – Spain dropped the mandatory use of face masks outdoors on Thursday, though many people kept them on in Madrid, with face coverings now an everyday staple.

Spain first imposed obligatory mask-wearing outdoors in May 2020, but lifted it in June last year.

Wearing a face covering was still required for indoor public spaces.

However, the government reimposed the measure just before Christmas as COVID cases exploded due to the highly-contagious Omicron variant.

Even as rules eased across the country Thursday, in Madrid, some kept them on out of habit.

“I’m wearing one and I’ll keep on doing so even though the law says I can take it off,” said Alberto Diaz, a pensioner from the southern Andalusia region who was in the city for a concert.

Face masks have been embraced across Spain in all public spaces, both inside and out, and they have largely become ubiquitous like in many cities in Asia.

Although they will remain compulsory at large open-air gatherings where social distancing is not possible, they will no longer be required in school playgrounds.

Newlyweds Ricardo Alfredo Sanchez and Yvette Candero looked delighted as they had their photo taken in Puerta del Sol Square.

“It’s not the same having a souvenir photo taken with your face covered, you can’t see the person’s expression or how happy they are,” said the groom.

In another anticipated move, in the northeastern region of Catalonia, nightlife venues were set to open at the stroke of midnight (2300 GMT).

In late December, the Catalan government put in place some of Spain’s most restrictive measures to fight Omicron, imposing a night curfew from 1:00 am, closing nightlife venues and halving the capacity in bars and restaurants.

The bar and restaurant restrictions were eased last month, but nightlife venues had remained closed, until Friday — with most set to open just after midnight.

Despite high vaccination rates, COVID cases exploded in Spain over the Christmas holidays, giving it one of Europe’s highest incidence rates, although that has now fallen.

So far, Spain has registered some 10.5 million infections and more than 95,000 deaths.





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