Spain ends compulsory use of face masks on public transport
The use of face masks has ceased to be compulsory on public transport in Spain, bringing an end to almost three years of the government’s most visible anti-Covid measure.
Masks became obligatory on public transport on 4 May 2020 after the socialist-led coalition government introduced legislation decreeing they had to be worn by those using buses, taxis, trains, metro systems, aeroplanes or boats.
The government announced an end to the requirement on Tuesday, explaining that it would take effect the following day. While the use of masks on public transport is now optional, they must still be worn in health centres, hospitals, pharmacies and by those visiting or working in care homes for older people.
Spain, which responded to the pandemic with one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, lifted the requirement on wearing masks in indoor spaces such as workplaces, schools, concert halls and sports arenas, in April last year.
“Today, we’re taking an important step towards a much-desired normality as part of our shared road map on Covid-19,” Spain’s health minister, Carolina Darias, tweeted on Wednesday.
The authorities said the lifting of the requirement had been made possible thanks to Spain’s high vaccination rates.
“Vaccine cover in Spain is above 92% in the population aged over 12, while 94% of those aged over 60 have received a booster that improves that group’s protection when it comes to serious Covid and death,” said the announcement in the official state bulletin.
“The efficacy of the vaccines – which are estimated to be 90% effective in preventing serious cases and deaths from Covid-19 – and the high rate of coverage achieved have led to an important change in Covid-19’s epidemiology in our country.”
England abandoned the obligatory use of face masks on public transport in January 2022. France followed suit four months later but recommended people carried on using them even so.
According to the latest figures from the health ministry, Spain has so far logged 13,740,531 cases of Covid and recorded 118,712 deaths from the virus.