The Spanish government has revealed that it wants to remove the restriction on wearing facemasks indoors before Easter.
The debate on wearing facemasks indoors has been ongoing for months and remains one of the most controversial policies introduced by the government since the pandemic began.
The government and Ministry of Health have in recent weeks been sending out vague messages about when the restriction would finally be lifted saying things such as “soon”, “very soon” and “sooner rather than later”.
On Friday, when asked by journalists about the policy, Minister of Health Carolina Darias said, “there is one day less” and that the time to decide is “when it is decided”. Once again showing a reluctance to commit to any precise date.
At an event in Cadiz at the weekend, the minister stressed that the country was continuing to monitor the epidemiological situations in order to “protect the population” saying that the country was “closer” to removing the requirement to wear masks indoors. However, she declined to say exactly when that would be.
With the Easter holidays fast approaching many politicians are keen to lift the obligation for people to wear masks indoors, however, any move will go directly against the recommendations of the country’s Public Health officials from the autonomous regions who want the mask policy to remain in force until at least after the Easter break.
Just last week, the director of the Centre for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES), Fernando Simón met with regional experts who have been working on a technical document on the elimination of masks in public.
Simón asked if 15 days would be sufficient enough time to make the decision, however, the experts were emphatic that it was not.
Any decision to lift the restrictions too early before Easter would therefore go against the opinion and recommendations of the regional experts.
However, Health Minister Carolina Darias has suggested that April 12, which is Holy Tuesday, could be the day that the mandatory restrictions are finally lifted.
Around the same time, the CCAES will present their own review of the country’s epidemiological situation. If their findings are positive, it could mean that they will make a swift decision to remove the restrictions on wearing masks indoors.
On Wednesday, April 6, the Interterritorial Council including Health Minister Darias and regional Councillors will meet again in Toledo to discuss the matter further and hopefully come to an agreement on lifting the measures.
The spread of the Omicron variant has been mostly kept in check thanks to the country’s successful immunisation campaign, with 92.5% of the Spanish adult population now fully vaccinated against the virus.
In their latest published report on Marc 29 of the country’s epidemiological situation, ministry figures showed that there are still 466 cases per 100,000.
However, the pressure on hospital and ICU beds has been largely reduced with just 3.52% of hospital beds being filled by Covid-19 patients.
Similar, intensive care unit beds have also been under less pressure in recent months with 5.40% of all ICU beds currently being utilised by Covid patients.
Image Credit: La Moncloa