Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez stated that Spain will require outdoor wear of a face mask in order to combat the Omicron variant, which is rapidly spreading in Spain amid an unprecedented increase in Covid-19 case numbers.

Spain was spared from the epidemic of infectious diseases that prompted several countries in northern Europe to tighten their restrictions this autumn, with nearly 80 percent of the population being vaccinated. 

Omicron’s arrival on Wednesday has caused numbers to rocket, with an estimated 60,000 new infections. But, despite the fact that hospital admissions have increased, intensive-care patients and those in hospitals remain relatively low relative to COVID-19 wave previous waves.  

Sanchez’s cabinet will convene a special meeting to approve Thursday’s law by decree. This does not need to be debated or voted in Parliament and will require that masks are worn outside starting on Christmas Eve. 

Spain will make it compulsory to wear a face mask outdoors again in a bid to contain the fast spreading Omicron variant amid a record surge in Covid-19 cases

Spain will require outdoor face protection in order to combat the Omicron virus, which has been rapidly spreading in response to a record number of Covid-19-related cases

Mandatory outdoor mask-wearing is again set to take force on Christmas Eve, Pictured: People wearing face masks enjoy the Christmas lights in downtown Madrid, Spain on Wednesday

Mandatory outdoor mask-wearing is again set to take force on Christmas Eve, Pictured: People wearing face masks enjoy the Christmas lights in downtown Madrid, Spain on Wednesday

A raft of additional measures were announced by Prime Minister. These included an offer to send the armed forces into the region to accelerate their vaccination rollsout, and to put medical beds in military hospitals at the disposal of those who need them.

Sanchez indicated that 80 percent of 60-69 year olds will have booster shots within the next week.   

Sanchez was criticized by experts and parties opposing him for not placing restrictions on movement due to Omicron’s spread, like other European countries, such as Portugal, the Netherlands, or Spain, but he denied this.

Sanchez said that this is not March 2020 or Christmas 2020. He cited the Spanish high vaccine rate, which contrasts with earlier periods of the pandemic, when vaccines weren’t available.

Spain had already made indoor mask wearing mandatory. Many Spaniards prefer to wear their face covered outdoors, even though the law no longer requires it. 

On Christmas Eve, however, outdoor mandatory mask-wearing will again be required. 

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's cabinet will hold a special meeting Thursday to approve a law by decree - which does not require a debate or vote in Parliament - that will make it mandatory to wear masks outside from Christmas Eve

The cabinet of Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will meet in a special session Thursday to pass a law-by-decree that makes it compulsory to wear masks outdoors starting Christmas Eve. It does not need to be debated or voted in Parliament.

Sanchez however stated there are exceptions. For example, when relatives live in the open area with someone they don’t know.

Following a request from regional government leaders, Premier John Kerry announced these measures during a Wednesday meeting. 

Spain has reported nearly 700 new cases per 100,000 residents in Spain over the past 14 days. This is more than twice as many cases that were reported before Christmas. Omicron cases have risen from just 5% in Spain to almost 47% within a single week.

Yet, many are still able to avoid the most severe effects of the virus by getting vaccinated. There were approximately 30,000 Covid-19-infected patients in Spain last January, but now there are less than 8,000.

People walk along a commercial street in downtown Madrid, Spain, on Wednesday

On Wednesday, people walk down a street that is commercial in Madrid.

Sanchez stated to the Spanish parliament, that 90% of those targeted are over the age 12 and have been fully immunized.

He assured lawmakers that families would be able celebrate Christmas. Spain won.

Sanchez’s administration also plans to loosen rules on the type of home-testing kits pharmacies can sell and earmark 292 million euros (£247 million) to beef up the struggling primary-care sector, the government said in a statement.

Spain’s Regions are responsible for the management of their healthcare system and can limit indoor and outdoor capacity. Most have only made non-binding recommendations to citizens.

Stark political divisions between the regions can make any agreement regarding concrete restrictions difficult. Local approaches to reducing infection may vary greatly.     

Sanchez convened the meeting Wednesday to discuss how to respond to the rash of infected before the Christmas break.

Catalonia’s northeastern region, which has Barcelona as its capital, will be the first region in Spain to reinstate an almost-impossible curfew.

The Courts have been requested to approve a variety of restrictions. They include an nighly 6 – 1 am curfew and the closing of nightclubs. Limiting the capacity of gyms, restaurants, theatres will also be implemented starting on December 24th and lasting up to 15 days.

However, in Madrid the conservative government has pledged that the tourism sector will remain open during holidays.