Spain is taking a further step to combat the spread of coronavirus.
You might have noticed, amongst the myriad new guidelines to fight the coronavirus pandemic, a number of policies which would on the surface appear to be strange, such as suggesting that singing in churches and chanting at sports matches could be banned in an attempt to control the virus. Odd though this may seem, it’s in a bid to prevent airborne droplets from travelling from person to person – and now Spain is targeting another restriction along similar lines, by banning smoking in public places.
Research published by the nation’s health ministry in July has indicated a link between smoking and the chances of spreading coronavirus, with two factors though to play a part in this. First, expelling smoke is likely to create more airborne droplets, a method by which the virus has a greater chance of spreading. Secondly, the constant raising of the hands to the face involved in smoking, and the necessity to remove one’s mask whilst doing so, are also thought to increase the possibility of transmission.
As a result, some Spanish regions have put in place smoking bans in public places, and spaces where social distancing is impossible. The northern region of Galicia has become the first to make such a move, and Metro reports that regions including the Canary Islands, Madrid, and Andalusia are looking to follow suit. The new rules mean that, whenever social distancing of at least 1.5 metres is impossible, smoking will be banned – whether that be in the street, or in bars and restaurants. Several independent health organisations have backed the move, which is seen as necessary ahead of a possible second wave in autumn and winter, and will be enforced with fines.
There are – as of yet – no plans to adopt similar measures in London, but if it’s proven to help reduce the rate of infection in Spain (a country with significantly more cigarettes smoked per capita than the UK, it is crucial to note) then the measure might well be considered in London and beyond.
Also published on Medium.