Masks still compulsory on planes in Spain despite confusion

An outdated announcement by Spain’s Transport Minister on Thursday gave journalists the impression that masks would cease to be mandatory on aeroplanes, but the Spanish government has rushed to clarify what the country’s mask rules for public transport are. 

spain mask rules planes
face masks rules in Spain are exactly the same as they have been since last April. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/AFP

Spain’s Transport Minister Raquel Sánchez on Thursday spoke in the Spanish Parliament about the rules relating to mask wearing for air travel, in effect regurgitating a change to legislation which was passed last April.

“Regarding air travel, based on the evolution of the Covid-19 health emergency, the royal decree eliminates the mandatory nature of the measures at airports, which will instead become recommendations,” Sánchez said.   

“We’re referring to mask wearing, temperature checks, social distancing, and with these modifications, we follow the lead of our neighbouring countries, removing obstacles and therefore helping the transport and tourism industry.”

The fact that Sánchez did not use the past tense to refer to the apparent changes gave Spanish journalists the impression that she must have been referring to masks on planes, even though this was not explicitly stated, as these are the only places relating to air travel where masks have continued to be mandatory for the past five months.  

However, the Spanish government has been quick to clarify that even though their Transport Minister spoke of the legislation as if it were new, the rules remain unchanged. 

In fact, Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias had stressed only two days earlier that face masks would continue to be compulsory on public transport, be it inside buses, ferries, taxis, planes, trams or trains. 

“We are approaching the final stage of the pandemic, although with great caution,” Darias said, adding that “if there is a change” to mask legislation, it would be based on “what the experts say”.

Therefore, face masks rules in Spain are exactly the same as they have been since last April. 

They are not compulsory in any outdoor public settings. They are not compulsory either in the vast majority of indoor settings, with the exception of hospitals, pharmacies, care homes, other health-related centres and on public transport. 

In general terms, that means that you don’t have to wear a mask at the airport or train station, but you do have to wear a mask on the plane or train. 

The article below offers a detailed breakdown of the rules. 

REMINDER: What are Spain’s specific mask rules for travel?

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Madrid metro app to show carriage temperature and occupancy levels

A new feature on the Madrid Metro app will enable passengers to track real time data in order to choose the best train carriage according to temperature and occupancy levels.

Madrid metro app to show carriage temperature and occupancy levels

Anyone who is a regular user of Madrid’s metro system will be familiar with just how crowded and hot it can get during peak times, and that guessing where to stand on the platform to get onto the emptiest carriage isn’t always easy.

Fortunately, Madrid Metro has launched a new digital tool that allows metro users to find information on carriage occupancy and temperature before the trains reach the platform, allowing them to choose ahead of time the carriage they would like to travel in.

Madrid’s Regional Minister of Housing, Transport and Infrastructure, Jorge Rodrigo, stressed that the move makes up part of broader modernisation plans on the sprawling Madrid metro system.

“This digital development contributes to modernisation goals by serving the greatest number of people, improving travel conditions and reducing environmental impact,” Rodrigo said in a press release.

The occupancy and data information is obtained every 15 seconds from sensors installed in the metro carriages, and the tracking tool is available on the Madrid Metro mobile app, something already installed by more than 550,000 people. The app not only allows users to check occupancy rates and temperature levels ahead of time, but shows the location of their train.

It also offers information and advice on planning journeys across the capital, information on lifts, escalators and disability accessibility, as well as information on season tickets and fares and allows cleaning alerts to be sent via the app.

The temperature and occupancy features will initially be rolled out on Line 5, which connects Casa de Campo and Alameda de Osuna, and will be gradually extended to the rest of the network with time.