The use of face masks indoors as a protective measure against coronavirus infection is no longer mandatory in many European countries.
Sweden was one of the first countries to withdraw it. France said last week it will lift this restriction on March 14 and Belgium does so from Monday.
Face shields are also not compulsory in Finland - only a recommendation on public transport and crowded spaces -, just like in Norway and the United Kingdom, which are also preparing to return to life as it was before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Spanish government -which at the end of the year came to establish temporarily the mandatory use of masks even outdoors to fight against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus- is also considering dropping the masks obligation.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Sunday that Spaniards "soon" will be able to stop wearing face masks indoors. For this, a legal amendment will be necessary, since the mandatory nature of the face shields is still regulated by a real decree.
A meeting on 10 March
Prime Minister Sanchez explained that the time to say goodbye to the masks will come when the Ministry of Health, headed by Minister Carolina Darias, decides.
The Ministry of Health plans to meet with the governments of the regions (autonomous communities) within the meeting of the Interterritorial Council of Health on Thursday 10 March. It will be then that the central government and the regions decide on the new system to monitor the evolution of the Covid-19 epidemic in Spain.
But not everyone agrees. There are regions like Madrid that are in favor of eliminating the mask once and for all. Others propose gradual withdrawals, starting for example with schools. For some regions such as the Basque Country, it is still too early to remove the mask.