He insists that his withdrawal is “closer”, but several communities and experts begin to question whether this measure is still in force
The masks will continue to be mandatory outdoors, although this measure is “temporary” and their withdrawal is getting “closer”. The Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, tried yesterday to defend the maintenance of the most symbolic restriction of the pandemic, and the one that generates the most controversy due to the lack of scientific evidence that justifies it, after her department and the autonomous communities showed, within the Interterritorial Health Council, great discrepancies. For now, the opinion of the Ministry continues to prevail, which considers that it is too soon to lift the obligation of this outdoor protection element.
“We have the position [favorable] of the Alerts Conference (Health advisory body during the pandemic) and there is no doubt that the mask produces a ‘barrier effect’ “, Carolina Darias pointed out.
“We approved this measure before Christmas, which was demanded by practically all the communities and which will be maintained for the essential time,” recalled the minister, who refused to give a deadline for the end of this obligation.
But the resistance to the mandatory nature of the mask outdoors is now greater, above all, after the controversial validation in Congress, on Tuesday, of the decree that expands its use (voted jointly with matters other than health, such as the revaluation of pensions).
The approval has once again stirred a controversy that divides communities. The Region of Murcia, Madrid, Catalonia, Castilla y León and Galicia demanded in the Interterritorial to end this restriction, while the Valencian Community, Cantabria, Andalusia and the Basque Country insisted on maintaining it until the accumulated incidence does not fall to even lower levels. low.
In this debate, the decisions of politicians do not fully coincide with those of scientists. With different nuances, the experts highlight that the mandatory nature of masks outdoors is not one of the most effective measures and they recall that it was a controversial restriction since it was resumed at the end of December.
“It is not useful and the endorsement that Congress gave on Tuesday seems inappropriate to me,” explains Óscar Zurriaga, vice president of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology. The changes in discourse and the lack of scientific evidence have weighed down limitations that at some point would have made some sense, Zurriaga believes.
«The real problem is to establish a measure of bad forms. Outside, it could only make any sense when there are crowds or if the safety distance cannot be kept, but in general, this limitation could have been removed months ago, ”says this epidemiologist, who acknowledges, even so, that it is a “iconic” measure: “Removing the mask would give the impression that the pandemic is over.”
“Legislate common sense”
The president of the Spanish Society of Immunology, Marcos López Hoyos, admits the difficulty of legislating “common sense”, which would advise using the mask outdoors only if a safety distance between people cannot be maintained, such as at concerts. or celebrations.
For this reason, he states that the obligation can be lifted “when the sixth wave is controlled”, but as long as the incidence continues to skyrocket, he considers that it should be maintained.
“It is evident that if a person walks alone on the street, a mask is not necessary, but there are also situations outside, such as crowds or close contacts, in which it does seem necessary,” he points out.
The epidemiologist and pediatrician Quique Bassat says that the decision to force the use of a mask also outdoors had a “cosmetic” nature. “When the sixth wave broke, everyone was asking for something to be done,” says Bassat, who believes that it would now be “reasonable” to remove this restriction. “But it’s not urgent either. Perhaps we can wait until the end of the month, when the incidence is lower, “he highlights.
Of course, Bassat emphasizes that schools, where children still take it to recess, should be the first place to be removed.
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