By Raul Cadenas and Catherine MacDonald
MADRID (Reuters) - 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.
"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.
Some 3,782,463 coronavirus cases have been confirmed while 80,779 people have died from COVID-19, according to official data.
(Reporting by Graham Keeley; Additional reporting Raul Cadenas and Catherine Macdonald; Editing by Helen Popper)