Spanish region bans public smoking to prevent Covid spread

Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Aug 13 (efe-epa).- Authorities in the Spanish region of Galicia on Thursday banned smoking in public places in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections.

Officials in the northwestern region announced a prohibition on lighting up in the street and outdoor spaces, including restaurants and bars, if a two meter distance cannot be maintained between people.

There is an increased risk of Covid-19 transmission for people smoking or vaping as they have to remove their mask, which are obligatory in public spaces, and have repeated contact with their fingers and mouth, according to the local government.

Galicia is the first Spanish region to impose this measure, with other local authorities also considering similar restrictions.

Spain is facing the worst transmission rate in western Europe and its semi-autonomous regions have imposed different measures to try and curb the spread of infections.

Regional authorities have a range of powers, including imposing selective lockdowns on localities in their territories, limiting visits to nursing homes, reducing the capacity and hours of hotel and nightlife venues, setting a maximum number of people at private gatherings and intensifying tracking and testing.

Raquel Fernández Megina, president of anti-smoking group, welcomed the smoking restrictions.

“It is a measure that should be adopted now throughout Spain, at least during the pandemic, and which would offer us legal protection to defend ourselves from smoke,” she said.

Another 3,172 infections were reported in Spain on Wednesday, an increase in the number detected in the previous 24 hours of 1,690, according to the country’s health authorities.

This did not include Madrid as regional data for the capital was not available due to technical problems, the health ministry reported.

Spain has been one of Europe’s worst-affected countries by the pandemic and has seen almost 329,800 confirmed cases and 28,579 deaths, including 65 recorded in the past week.

Rising infection rates in some regions, particularly Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre, has prompted a number of European countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany, to reimpose travel quarantines or advise against trips to the country. EFE-EPA


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