The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, signalled yesterday, that masks would no longer have to be worn outdoors, from next Saturday, 26th June.
The announcement came as the latest Spanish government official infection rate figures were released showing the clearest signs yet, that the Covid-19 pandemic is receeding.
The figures show that the national average in Spain is for the first time since August 2020 under the 100 mark – at 98.8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Speaking in Barcelona, the Prime Minister said that the decision will be formalised at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday 24th June “at which we are going to propose that masks no longer be obligatory in open spaces from Saturday, June 26.”
Masks will still be need to be worn indoors and outdoors when a safe distance of 1.5 meters cannot be maintained.
The Prime Minister hailed the governments vaccine rollout programme as being a major part for the falling infection rate saying that: “in a few weeks, 50% of the population will have at least one dose” and the the programme was now at “cruising speed.”
Although the national average for Covid-19 infections has continued dropping, there remain considerable regional variations in the country.
Andalucia´s 179 per 100,000 inhabitants is more than three times that of the Valencia region.
For the first time Madrid´s regional rate had fallen below the national average – at 96.92.
However all regions are now well below the “danger threshold” of 250 cases per 100,000 and and a fraction from the peaks seen at the beginning of the year.
Since the programme started in January of this year, nearly 35 million doses have been administered; of which 22.4 million people have now received at least one dose, representing 47.1% of the population, while 13.6 million people have now been fully vaccinated, representing 28.7% of the population.
Madrid´s vaccine rollout has been accelerating with the 40-48 age group having just started and the “auto” vaccination centres allowing for people who had missed their appointment slots to make their own.
The Madrid regional health authorities have announced that school pupils from 12-16 years (ESO) and 16-18 years (Bachillerato) will be offered the vaccine from the end of August to start the process before the beginning of the school year on September 8th.
According to the Spanish Ministry of Health figures the vaccination rate per age group are as follows:
Aged 40-49: 44.4% one dose – 14.3% fully vaccinated.
Aged 50-59: 85.1% one dose – 50.6% fully vaccinated.
Aged 60-69: 92.7% one dose – 28.7% fully vaccinated.
Aged 70-79: 98.1% one dose – 96.1% fully vaccinated.
Over 80s: 100% – one dose – 100% fully vaccinated.
The government´s target is to have 70% of the population fully vaccinated by the end of August, which will mean reaching the threshold for the hoped for herd immunity.
The obligatory wearing of masks in all public spaces – indoors and out – was passed into law by the Spanish Parliament meaning that the government will need to make a further law to undo the measure.
Since the pandemic began, Spain has recorded 3,749,031 Covid-19 cases of whom 80,615 have died.