From Wednesday, 8th February, Spain is to drop its extensive face mask mandate across public transport, including on aeroplanes, after nearly three years. The country was the last in Europe to retain an airplane mask mandate after Germany dropped its own restrictions late last year.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Spain’s ministry of health announced that the council of ministers had finally approved the elimination of the public transit mask mandate after reviewing data that showed a “clear downward trend” in COVID-19 cases.
Spain will, however, retain a mask mandate in health centres, pharmacies and in social health centres, such as old people’s homes and resident daycare centres. Minister of Health Carolina Darias urged vulnerable people to continue to wear a mask on public transport, as well as in crowded indoor environments.
In November, Spanish airlines had slammed the mask mandate as “unjustified” and “incongruous” and said it made no sense that Spain refused to relax masking rules when every other European country had done so.
In fact, Europe officially dropped its recommendation of mandatory airplane masking back in May 2022 following a joint decision from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
The decision was made shortly after a Florida judge struck down the United States face mask mandate. Several European countries, including Ireland, Croatia, Denmark, Hungary, Finland, Poland and Sweden, had already relaxed or ditched mask mandates ahead of the EU’s official recommendation.
Several countries, however, ignored the EU and kept the mask mandate in place. In particular, Germany, Portugal and Spain all retained their own mask mandates.
Portugal dropped its mandate in August 2022, while Germany only rescinded the mandate several months later, following political pressure. Calls to drop Germany’s airplane mask rules started to grow after Chancellor Olaf Scholz was photographed aboard a government plane maskless.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.