Next Saturday, June 26, masks will no longer be mandatory in outdoor public spaces as long as a safe distance can be maintained with other people. President Pedro Sánchez, after several days of uncertainty and controversy with some communities, finally announced this Friday that on Thursday, June 24, an extraordinary Council of Ministers will be held to reform the current regulations, so that this garment is no longer mandatory on the street. -except for exceptions- from the 26th.
The long-awaited news put an end to the torrent of speculation unleashed after the president himself, on Wednesday, affirmed that “Soon” the mask was going to stop being present. Moncloa -explained Government sources- decided to reserve the important announcement to the chief executive because the abolition of oral protection, although it has been on the table for weeks in the meetings between Health and the communities, is the exclusive competence of the central Administration.
In this extraordinary Council of Ministers, the green light will be given to the reform of what is known as the law of the new normality (Law 2/2021 of urgent prevention, containment and coordination measures to face the health crisis caused by the covid), which is the one that establishes since last March the obligation to use the mask in all public spaces.
This regulation was the one that the communities and Healthcare agreed in April in the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS) to “make flexible” (in practice, partially breach) to make it possible to dispense with protection on beaches, swimming pools and other places of recreation in the aquatic environment. That ruse, that of using the Interterritorial to give the green light to openly circumvent a law, was (and is) highly criticized by the State legal services.
While the population celebrates with some euphoria the end of the mandatory nature of masks, experts call for caution. Scientific societies and specialists share the idea that at some point citizens, after fifteen months of a pandemic, should receive the first good news, but, on the other hand, recall that the health crisis is not over yet and focus on younger age groups.
The head of the Clinical Microbiology Service of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Jordi Vila, expresses his concern about the possibility of “crowds of young people abroad”. The members of this group, he emphasizes, “are not only more prone to concentrations due to their lifestyle, but nowadays are still not vaccinated in Spain, so there is a higher risk of outbreaks in this group than among older people ».
The spokesman for the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians (SEMG), Lorenzo Armenteros, argues that the measure “must go hand in hand with vaccination” and advocates that “60% of the population have the complete guideline” before removing this security element. Currently, only 30% of Spaniards are fully immunized.
Along the same lines, the Asturian epidemiologist Usama Bilal, a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia (United States), believes that “flexibility outdoors is very appropriate, since they are places where the risk is very low.” “But it’s important to keep keeping it indoors until we have a higher vaccination rate,” he adds.
The General Council of Nursing insists on maintaining other restrictions. “Citizens should always wear the mask when they leave home, that is the general rule, and they can do without it if conditions allow it: outdoors where social distance can be respected,” the organization highlights.