Spain cancels mask mandate outdoors as Covid infection rates drop

Hospitals in Spain are reporting lower admission rates, which is part of the reason behind the move to scrap masks

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Spain is scrapping a mandate to wear masks outdoors, as Covid-19 infection rates drop and hospitals report lower admissions.

Mask-wearing will not be necessary outside from Thursday, government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez said after a weekly cabinet meeting.

The rule change includes children at school during their breaks outside between classes.

However, masks remain mandatory in indoor public spaces, including public transport, and when people are unable to keep a safe distance of 1.5 metres between them.

The measure reverses a step taken last December amid an unprecedented surge of infections fuelled by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Official health ministry data showed how the spread of the virus gathered speed in November and peaked on January 21 at 3,418 new infections per 100,000 residents over two weeks, a pandemic record.

Contagion has since slowed down, with the 14-day figure dropping to just under 2,000.

Authorities credit a strong vaccination rate of nearly 81% of Spain’s 47 million people for a lower hospital admission rate of Covid-19 patients than in previous infection surges.

Spain has officially recorded more than 94,000 deaths linked to Covid-19.