Pedro Sánchez arriving for the conference of regional presidents on Wednesday. | Rodrigo Jimenez

Following Wednesday's conference of regional presidents, Prime Minister Sánchez gave an assurance that the current situation with the pandemic is not like it was in March 2020 or at Christmas last year. This is because of the "massive vaccination" in Spain.

"The situation is different to March 2020 and we are not going to apply the measures we did then." The state of alarm meant confinement, curfew and restriction of movement. He stressed that "we have not returned to March last year or to Christmas 2020". The most widespread variant at this time (Omicron) is different, it causes milder effects and the percentage of the vaccinated population is high.

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The main initiative, the prime minister said, will be to intensify the vaccination process "with an emphasis on the third dose". "Science tells us that it protects against contagion and the severity of the disease."

Regarding the reintroduction of the compulsory wearing of masks outdoors, Pedro Sánchez explained that this is a measure with broad consensus among regional presidents. He added that there will be exceptions, "such as for sport and for the beach."

In addition, temporary authorisations are to be given to allow pharmacies to sell antigen tests that are at present for professional use, while resources for the health service are to be strengthened.