Spain still divided over making FFP2 masks mandatory

Masks must be worn at all times in public areas

THE debate over whether or not to make medical grade face masks mandatory has reached Spain, following the move in other EU countries to do so.

Germany, Austria and France have made FFP2 masks mandatory in shops, public transport and public administration buildings.
Some Spanish regions have already shown their support for doing the same thing due to the highly contagious British strain of the virus, but is this really necessary?
The Head of the Health Alerts and Emergencies Coordination Centre, Fernando Simon, following the debate in other EU countries, has said that he believes it would be “sensible” for the government to make FFP2 masks mandatory for health care personnel, and “debatable” for the general population, “as long as everybody wears protection”.
Extremadura was ahead of the rest of Spain, and had already introduced them for teachers.
The President of Galicia, Nuñez Feijoo, is one of those in favour of making them mandatory, but even he has said that the main problem with this is the price. The masks can only be used once and they are considerably more expensive than the traditional surgical masks.
The President of Castilla y Leon Regional Government, Alfonso Fernandez, supports this stance, and has said that “everyone knows they are safer,” joining Feijoo in saying that the Central Government should bring their price down. They are joined in this by Junta de Andalucia President Juanma Moreno, who has asked that the government lower VAT on the item to ensure they can be used by the general population.
However, he has been more cautious and says that making them obligatory would first have to be studied.
Simon said recently that the most effective mask for self-protection against Covid-19 is the FFP3, while the FFP2 mask is slightly less effective.
The FFP3 mask has a filter efficiency of 98 per cent to protect the person wearing it and those around them.
FFP2 (92 per cent efficient) and FFP1 (78 per cent efficient) are most effective at filtering inhaled air. All three are designed for a single four to eight hours use.
Meanwhile, the Department of Consumers does not advise the use of FFP2 masks for the general population and only for professionals coming in close contact with the virus or vulnerable people who would received them with medical prescriptions.
Scientists say that the new strains of Covid spread more easily, so all measures, including masks, distancing, ventilation, cleaning hands, must be observed.
In closed, busy areas, they say FFP2 masks are recommended, while in open or well ventilated areas, surgical or hygienic masks are sufficient.
Fabric masks are not banned in Spain, but as it can be hard to tell whether or not they meet with health standards, they are now banned in some medical centres throughout the country.

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Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.