Smoking ban and restaurant curfew: new coronavirus measures introduced
Spanish health minister agreed the new restrictions after a meeting with regional authorities
Smoking will be banned on streets and terraces where a two-meter safety distance cannot be guaranteed, and restaurants will have to shut by 1 am every night all across Spain.
Restaurants will not be able to accept any new customers after midnight.
Bars and nightclubs will also be forced to close across Spain, although clubs in Catalonia have been shut for some weeks already with restrictions that had been in place.
Visits to nursing homes will also be limited to one person per resident for a maximum of one hour per day.
The new measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus were agreed between the Spanish health minister Salvador Illa following a meeting with the regional health authorities on Friday.
Catalonia applied the new measures on August 18.
On Thursday and Friday, Spain and Catalonia saw high upticks in the amount of new coronavirus positive cases.
Catalan authorities recorded over 1,000 new positive tests on Friday, as well as the most amount of deaths in a single day seen since early July.
Galicia and the Canary Islands were the first regions to introduce the ban on smoking earlier in the week, which led to the Catalan department of health to consider adopting the same measures.
The agreed measures will be formalized "in the coming days." Illa explained that no time limit has been set for the regions to apply the new measures and said that "they will do so as soon as possible."
“It is not optional, as we have all agreed, we will all have to put it into practice” and there is no need for judicial ratification of the measures, Illa said.
In total, eleven new measures have been applied. The various regions that have not yet applied any of them already will have to do so from now on.
The new restrictions also include the requirement to conduct risk assessments for each crowded event, and the requirement to perform PCR tests on specific groups when there is an epidemic outbreak. Illa also recalled that the consumption of alcohol in public spaces is prohibited and called on the regions to "strictly" apply sanctions.
With regard to nursing homes, in addition to the limit of visitors, it will now be obligatory to perform PCR tests on all new entrants and employees returning from holiday or joining the center.
Outings will also be limited to health centers. Exceptions may be made to visitation limitations if the patient is to be dismissed before he or she dies.
The Spanish health minister has called for compliance with the guidelines from everybody and addressed young people directly in his Friday press conference, asking them to be “disciplined.”
"We need to be very rigorous," Ill said. These measures should “allow for stabilization” and lower the number of cases, he said.
Illa defends the closure of nightlife establishments across Spain because the outbreaks generated there are difficult to control and have many associated cases, although they are not the most numerous.