The Spanish region of Galicia has issued a ban on smoking in the street and in public places, such as restaurants and bars.
The ban was announced in a press conference on Wednesday after medics recommended the measure to the regional government.
The Spanish Health Ministry published a research last month, linking increased risk of Coronavirus spread with smoking. The ministry told the risk is caused by smokers taking off their masks and spreading saliva droplets as they exhale the smoke. The World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier warned that the physical act of smoking—bringing fingers to the lips—increases the possibility of hand-to-mouth virus transmission.
“Smoking with no limits… with people close by and without any social distancing [poses] a high risk of infection,” regional President Alberto Núñez Feijóo told the press conference.
“We know that this is an unpopular measure for smokers,” added Alberto Fernández Villar, a member of the clinical committee advising government, according to the El País newspaper. “But I believe we are in an exceptional situation.”
The epidemiological evidence demonstrated that smoking increases the risk of viral lung and throat infections that led researchers to warn smokers of being at the increased risk of more sever COVID-19 symptoms.
In the latest daily count on Wednesday Spain recorded 1,690 new cases, bringing the country’s total to almost 330,000.