MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s health ministry on Thursday lowered a price cap on health masks used to curb COVID-19 contagion to 0.62 euros ($0.73) per mask to take into account a cut in value-added tax announced this week.
The use of masks covering the nose and the mouth to prevent coronavirus contagion has been mandatory for months in Spain for people from the age of six.
The country has the second-highest number of cumulative infections in western Europe.
On Thursday, the Health Ministry reported an increase of 16,233 cases versus Wednesday to hit a cumulative total of 1,541,574, while the death toll rose by 252 to 42,291 compared to figures from the previous day.
The cut in the price cap takes into account the government’s decision on Tuesday to cut value-added tax on single-use masks to 4% from 21%, which came into effect on Thursday.
It was the second cut in the maximum retail price for single-use masks in a week as the cap had already been lowered late last week from a previous 96 cents.
On the streets of Madrid, some residents wished the government had slashed the VAT earlier.
“I think that it’s very good and I think they should have done it before. It’s something we are obliged to wear and some people have very little economic resources,” massage therapist Elisabeth Carrascosa said.
There is no price cap on reusable masks made out of fabric.
(Reporting by Belen Carreño, Inti Landauro and Jesús Aguado; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Susan Fenton)