Council of Ministers

The Government of Spain agrees that face masks will no longer be compulsory from tomorrow, albeit with some exceptions

Council of Ministers - 19.4.2022

Moncloa Palace, Madrid

The Council of Ministers has approved the end of the mandatory use of face masks indoors from 20 April.

The Minister for Health, Carolina Darias, has argued that the high rates of vaccination against COVID-19 and the epidemiological situation in Spain have allowed this measure to be adopted. So far, 92% of the population - 39 million people - have been fully vaccinated, which has led to a decline in the disease and most of the territory is at a low risk level.

Carolina Darias has clarified that masks will not be compulsory in school settings. In the work environment, in general, they will not be either. However, those responsible for the prevention of occupational hazards, and in accordance with the corresponding risk assessment of the workplace, may establish the appropriate preventive measures they deem appropriate, such as the use of masks.

At large events, such as sporting competitions or concerts, held both indoors and outdoors, it is not mandatory to wear a face mask. With regard to the continuity of capacity limitations, the minister indicated that this is the responsibility of the regional governments.

Exceptions to the removal of masks

Darias specified that masks will continue to be obligatory in certain contexts, such as in health centres, services and establishments - hospitals, health or transfusion centres, pharmacies - both for the people who work there and for visitors. It will also be the case in care homes and nursing homes for employees and visitors, but not for residents.

The obligation is also maintained for air, rail, bus and ship transport when the 1.5 metre safety distance cannot be maintained. At access to stations or on platforms, masks shall not be compulsory.

Responsible use of masks

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe Health Minister stated that the Executive recommends the responsible use of masks among vulnerable populations, such as those over 60 years of age, immunocompromised people, people at risk of diseases or pregnant women.

It has also advised their use by teachers or students who are vulnerable, at large events, in crowds and at family or private celebrations when a vulnerable person is in attendance.

The minister stated that the measure adopted today is a strategic response to the current epidemiological situation and upon the almost unanimous proposal of the members of the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System, which met in Toledo on 6 April.

116.5 million euros for research in strategic areas

The Council of Ministers has regulated the granting of 116.5 million euros in subsidies to the regional governments to finance the implementation of four Complementary R&D Plans in strategic areas: agri-food, astrophysics and high-energy physics, advanced materials and biodiversity.

These plans are co-governed and co-financed by the Ministry of Science and Innovation and the regional governments, which will contribute a further 84 million euros, within the framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan. The Minister for Territorial Policy and Government Spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, said that more than 2,000 researchers are expected to participate and 1,000 new contracts will be generated.

"The government's goal is to reach 3% investment in innovation in our country by 2030, and public administrations are committed to contributing 1.25%," she said.

Draft Law on Public Policy Evaluation

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe Executive has promoted the Draft Law on the Institutionalisation of Public Policy Evaluation in the General State Administration, which envisages the creation of a State Agency for Public Policy Evaluation to optimise procedures and promote innovation.

The aim of this new regulation, said the spokesperson, is "to know the impact that public policies have on their beneficiaries and citizens in general" and thus make "a better use of public resources, of everyone's resources and of the projection of future policies and plans".

It also establishes a cross-cutting evaluation approach to assess the impact of policies on gender equality, the environment, depopulation, economic growth, redistribution of wealth, compliance with European regulations and alignment with sustainable development objectives.

The approval of this regulation is one of the milestones included in the Recovery Plan and follows the recommendations made by the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Current Affairs

The government spokesperson described the Easter tourism campaign as "extraordinary", with occupancy rates of 80 and 90%: "We are recovering the levels at pandemic prices, in a sector particularly hard hit by the pandemic".

Rodríguez also stressed that "the good pace of employment recovery continues" with 20 million people in work and more than 500,000 permanent contracts.

In this sense, the spokesperson reiterated the Government's commitment to reducing temporary employment in the public sector through a bill that has already been approved in Congress and to improving the purchasing power of its employees, "which has been 3.7% compared to the 2.9% lost in the previous legislature".

Isabel Rodríguez recalled that, in the last three years, a public employment offer of 110,000 new posts has been approved, 73% more than in previous legislatures. "The replacement rate in the General State Budget for this year is already 110%, and, in the case of the State Law Enforcement Forces and Agencies, 125%," she pointed out.

Sanchez's visit to Ukraine

The spokesperson announced the forthcoming visit by the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, to Ukraine, which, together with the reopening of the Spanish Embassy in Kiev, is a "show of support for the Ukrainian people and solidarity with their government".

Protection of rights and freedoms

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaDuring the press conference following the Council of Ministers, and in response to journalists' questions about a possible case of cyber-spying on Catalan and Basque authorities and politicians, Isabel Rodríguez assured that "Spain is a democratic state governed by the rule of law where individual rights and freedoms are scrupulously respected".

"The Government has nothing to hide and will cooperate fully with the justice system in the investigation of these events if the courts so require," she said.

In addition, when asked about the new PP-VOX coalition government in Castilla y León, the spokesperson said that the Government will be "vigilant" to ensure that this alliance does not represent a step backwards in terms of fundamental rights and freedoms or, specifically, in terms of women's rights.

The President of Castilla y León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, took office today in a ceremony attended by the Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Pilar Alegría, on behalf of the Government.

Non official translation