Fernando Simón. | Efe

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Fernando Simón, the director of the Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies, believes that the requirement to wear masks indoors could well be lifted shortly.

Simón was speaking in Zaragoza on Wednesday at a conference on public health surveillance. This drew together scientists such as himself as well as representatives from the Spanish and regional governments. An aim of the conference was to set out a roadmap for normalisation following the pandemic.

He observed that "in places where the same people interact every day, mask-wearing probably no longer makes sense". In almost all scenarios, in his opinion, the need for masks could probably be dispensed with.

Regional governments have differing views. On Thursday, Madrid's health minister, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, called on the Spanish government to drop the requirement: "It's time to do it or to at least consider it."

In the Balearics, President Armengol is more cautious, pointing out that the situation in hospitals is still of concern. Even so, the requirement for masks indoors should be abandoned "as soon as possible". If the Spanish government approves this, opposition parties - the Partido Popular and Vox - don't want the Balearics to be one the last regions to adopt this change, as was the case with the Covid passport requirement for entering bars and restaurants.

Simón believes that coronavirus will gradually become a "low-impact endemic disease". He predicts that there will be waves with more serious cases but with lower incidences. He is optimistic and notes that, as a result of the harsh years of the pandemic, "there is a strong political commitment" to investment in research and security to deal with similar scenarios in the future.

Last weekend, Prime Minister Sánchez suggested that the need for wearing masks indoors will soon be lifted, stressing, however, that decisions will lie with the health ministry.