MADRID (AP) — Spain is scrapping a mandate to wear masks outdoors, as COVID-19 infection rates drop and hospitals report lower admissions. The government said Tuesday that mask-wearing will not be necessary outside beginning Thursday. The rule change includes children at school during their breaks outside. However, masks remain mandatory in indoor public spaces, including public transportation, and when people can’t keep a safe distance of 1.5 meters (4 feet) between them. The measure reverses a step taken in December amid an unprecedented surge of infections fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant. Authorities credited Spain’s high vaccination rate — nearly 81% — for a reduced rate of hospital admissions for recent COVID-19 patients.
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