Spain to scrap mandatory outdoor masks from February 10

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The Spanish government will lift the requirement for people to wear masks outdoors as an anti-coronavirus measure from next Thursday, Health Minister Carolina Darias said on Friday.

The measure was reinstated in late December to curb the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

The cabinet plans to approve the change at its weekly meeting scheduled for Tuesday and make it effective two days later, Darias told La SER radio station.

The government "always said it would last only while it was strictly necessary," she said. As contagion rates have fallen for several days, the government considers situation has changed, she said.

In the past two weeks, COVID-19's contagion rate, measured over the past 14 days, has been steadily falling to 2,421 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday down from almost 3,400 in early January.

Despite the surge in cases between November and January as Omicron spread, hospital admissions and deaths remain well below those seen in earlier waves of the pandemic, thanks in large part to Spain's high vaccination rate.

Spain's total death toll from the pandemic stands at 94,040 and the number of cases at 10.2 million.

Several European countries have started to roll back COVID-related restrictions in recent days. Outdoor masks are no longer mandatory in France and Italy's government announced on Wednesday it would release a timetable for a restriction phaseout.

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