The reintroduction of compulsory wearing was political rather than epidemiological | Josep Bagur Gomila

Over the long months of the pandemic, the mantra has been guided by data and by experts. In general, a community of epidemiologists, virologists and other ologists has held the reins tightly. Politicians, perhaps more inclined to lengthen the reins, have listened, fearful - and with good reason - of the virus bolting. But then one day, the virus did bolt.

While there will have been disagreements, the public face has been one of harmony, of political leaders guided by experts and accepting the need for caution. But signs of a role reversal emerged. Fernando Simón, a permanent presence for months but not now, expressed his doubts about the Covid passport. Why was it needed, given the high vaccination rates?

With masks, it’s not that health experts in Mallorca have said that masks outdoors have always been pointless. That’s absolutely not what they’ve been saying, but once Omicron was so widespread, they doubted the necessity. One of these experts, quoted at the weekend, suggested that the reintroduction of compulsory wearing was political rather than epidemiological - a need for politicians to demonstrate concern at incidence levels massively higher than at any other stage of the pandemic.

Had the politicians been guided by the experts or had they taken their own course? And once they themselves decided that masks were no longer necessary, was the timing a coincidence? A potential diversion from the labour reform vote debacle?

As one expert said, people will wear masks if they wish to. Which is how it should now be.