Spaniards were allowed to ditch their face masks for a walk in the park or a trip to the beach on Saturday for the first time in more than a year, but some people were in no rush to dispense with their facial protection against COVID-19.
"I'm surprised because I expected to see many people without masks, but most are still wearing them," said Manuel Mas, 40, a singer, in the centre of the capital, Madrid.
While masks do not have to be worn outdoors under the country's newly relaxed rules, people still have to use them indoors or in crowded outdoor spaces where social distancing is impossible.
Andrea Sosa, 20, a waitress from Madrid, said she would continue to keep her face covered because she had not been vaccinated yet.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"For me it's important to keep wearing the mask," she said as she waited to meet a friend in the city's busy Puerta del Sol square.
Spain's nationwide infection rate as measured over the preceding 14 days was 95 cases per 100,000 of population, down from about 150 cases a month ago, according to Spanish Health Ministry figures on Friday.
Half of the nation's 47 million population have received at least one vaccine dose, the ministry said earlier this week.