Spain approves law that ends indoor mask rule on April 20th

The Spanish Cabinet on Tuesday passed the highly anticipated decree which will allow people in Spain to no longer have to wear face masks in most indoor settings from Wednesday April 20th.

Spain approves law that ends indoor mask rule on April 20th
After two long years, Spaniards will no longer need to wear masks in indoor public settings, a Spanish royal decree has confirmed. (Photo by DESIREE MARTIN / AFP)

For the first time in 700 days, people in Spain will be able to decide whether or not to wear a mask inside a bar, restaurant, shop or cinema on Wednesday. 

The changes to the country’s mask rules, which were first announced on April 6th after weeks of speculation, were fully approved and confirmed by Spain’s Council of Ministers on Tuesday April 19th.

As with other royal decrees, the new law comes into force the following day upon publication in Spain’s state bulletin (BOE), which on this occasion will be published on Wednesday April 20th. 

The rule change marks one of the most symbolic moments of the pandemic in Spain, with all other Covid-19 rules (quarantines, curfews, health passes etc) long gone.  

“Face masks are no longer mandatory, except for certain exceptions,” Darias said at the press conference on Tuesday following the Spanish Cabinet meeting which approved the law. 

These exceptions are the same as those anticipated earlier by Spanish health authorities. Face coverings will still be mandatory in: 

  • Hospitals and other health-related establishments (dental clinics, pharmacies, physiotherapy practices etc)
  • Care homes for visitors and workers
  • All forms of public transport (airplanes, buses, trains, metros, taxis and ferries, the latter if a 1.5 metre distance can’t be kept indoors.)

READ MORE: Where will you still need to wear a mask indoors in Spain?

However, it will no longer be necessary to wear a mask inside bars, cafés, restaurants, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres, sports stadiums, concerts, shopping centres, supermarkets, gyms and schools. 

In workplaces, it will be employers who decide whether staff should continue wearing masks although the “general rule” is that face coverings are no longer mandatory.

Spain’s Health Ministry recommends that those over 60, immunosuppressed people, pregnant women and people in their company continue with “responsible use” of face masks indoors. 

For the rest of the population, health authorities also advise exercising “common sense” and “caution”, recommending that they still wear masks in poorly-ventilated or crowded indoor spaces. 

But except for a handful of places where masks continue to be mandatory, from Wednesday April 20th 2022 it will be up to ordinary citizens to decide when and where to wear a mask indoors. 

“We’re recovering some normality and are able to show our faces and smiles again,” Darias said, whilst stressing that masks “should continue to be among us as an element of protection, especially for vulnerable people”. 

There has been a slight increase in Spain’s fortnightly infection rate following the Easter holidays – currently standing at 466 cases per 100,000 people – although Spain’s Health Ministry no longer does an exhaustive recount of daily infections as it did previously.

READ ALSO: Is Spain ready to get rid of masks indoors?

“We’re not dropping our guard,” Spain’s Health Minister assured.

The removal of the indoor face mask rule is likely to provide clearer insight to where Spain stands in terms of a possible seventh coronavirus wave, or if the country can start a positive new chapter after two difficult years.

Have your say in our poll below: Will you still wear a mask indoors in Spain?


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


FACT CHECK: Do residents still need Covid documents to travel back to Spain?

Spain has dropped most Covid-19 restrictions, but do foreign residents in Spain travelling back to the Spanish territory from an EU or non-EU country still need to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery in September and October 2022?

FACT CHECK: Do residents still need Covid documents to travel back to Spain?

The Covid-19 pandemic no longer dominates daily life or travel in Spain.

In recent days, the Spanish government has scrapped the Spth health control form for all travellers and soon it will stop carrying out temperature and visual checks on non-EU arrivals

That’s not to say that all of Spain’s Covid-19 travel restrictions have been lifted. Non-EU tourists still need to show Covid-19 documents to be allowed into Spain, and on planes that are bound for Spain passengers must wear face masks

But how about for foreign residents in Spain who are travelling back to the Spanish territory after a holiday abroad or a visit to their country of origin? 

For example, would a UK or US national who legally resides in Spain and who has just spent a couple of weeks back in their country of origin need to show proof of vaccination, testing or recovery when they arrived back in Spain?

The question is not so much whether you’re a resident in Spain, but rather which country you’re travelling to Spain from. 

If it’s a non-EU/Schengen country, then you technically have to show Covid documents. If you’re completely unvaccinated or more than 270 days have passed since your last Covid-19 vaccine, you’ll need to present proof of a negative PCR or antigen test. That’s irregardless of whether you’re a Spanish national or foreign resident in Spain. 

Do residents still need Covid documents to travel back to Spain
Screenshot from showing how an unvaccinated UK national who is resident in Spain needs to get a Covid test before arrival in Spain if travelling from a non-EU country such as the United Kingdom.

If on the other hand you’re returning to Spain from another EU/Schengen country, then you will not have to show a Covid-19 certificate or equivalent document. Again, that’s irregardless of whether you’re a Spanish national, a resident of Spain (EU or non-EU national) or even a non-EU tourist who was already in the EU/Schengen Area before visiting Spain.

do residents need covid documents to travel back to spain
Screenshot from showing how an unvaccinated US national who is resident in Spain doesn’t need to show Covid documents or get tested before arrival in Spain if travelling from another EU country.

This is according to Spain’s website, where on its homepage section there is a section which allows you to choose “origin” (city/country you’re travelling from), your nationality and your vaccination status. 

When you fill in the categories and click through, it tells you whether or not you need to get a Covid-19 test. 

It also states your country of residence, even though you’re not given the option of filling this in (although, we reiterate, residence isn’t what counts). 

Are Spanish airport officials still rigorously checking the Covid documents of arrivals from outside of the EU/Schengen Area? No. 

Whether or not you get asked is up to chance. Some travellers have said they have been asked to show proof, whereas others have not.

“I went to the United Kingdom, vaccinated with the third dose more than 290 days ago (20 days over), so I needed a negative diagnostic test to return to Spain. I got a PCR in London, it cost me €80, and in Barcelona I didn’t even get asked for it”, one Spanish national wrote on Twitter.

Keep in mind as well that if you’re travelling back to Spain from a non-EU country, but you have a layover in another EU/Schengen country first before reaching Spain, it will be that country’s rules that apply in terms having to show Covid-19 documents. You will already have entered the EU/Schengen Area before reaching your final destination (Spain), so you will not be asked to provide proof of Covid certificates when you land in Spain.

Is there a risk of being refused entry as a resident if you don’t have any Covid-19 documents upon arrival in Spain and you get asked to provide them? 

The worst-case scenario is that you will be required to take a Covid test there and then at the airport. Spain has allowed legal Spanish residents (whether they’re EU or non-EU nationals) to return home to Spain even at the worst stages of the pandemic when travel was heavily restricted.

So, if you’re travelling back to Spain as a resident from a non-EU country, what Covid proof do you technically have to be able to show? Only one of the following:

  • A Covid-19 vaccination certificate – Your vaccination status must meet the Spanish authorities’ validity period requirements. If more than 270 days have passed since your initial vaccination, you need to show proof of a booster shot.
  • A negative Covid-19 test – This should be either a PCR taken within 72 hours prior to departure, or an antigen test, taken within 24 hours prior to departure. 
  • A recovery certificate – This must be dated within the last six months. You can use a medical certificate or recovery record to prove your Covid-19 status. 

You can prove the above by showing a digital or paper certificate issued by the relevant authorities of the country in which you were vaccinated. If you were vaccinated in Spain, this can be Spain’s EU Digital COVID Certificate.