FROM Monday, August 17, following Galicia and the Canary Islands’ example, the Spanish Ministry of Health banned smoking in the street and public spaces throughout Spain where smokers cannot guarantee a distance of two metres from others.
This is one of the new restrictions which came into force as well as others on nightlife opening times and monitoring capacity.
The smoking ban applies to all outdoor public spaces, from streets to bar terraces when a minimum distance of two metres cannot be respected. This also applies to devices such as vapes, e-cigarettes and hookas.
Als, if somebody is caught smoking in a bar or establishment it is not just them who can receive a penalty, both the owner and the smoker can be fined for anything from €100 to €3000 for breaking the restrictions.
However, if the bar reports that a customer refuses to stop smoking when asked, only the customer will be fined.
EWN took to the streets to ask the public and local bar and restaurant owners how the restrictions have affected them. We were surprised to discover that the general public finds it more of a hindrance than the establishment owners who seemed to have faith in their customer’s ability to make the right decision.
Tim Orram an expat who lives in Benalmadena and is originally from Bristol said, “It’s bulls**t, I think it’s a scam. I go to bars and still see people smoking there without “safely” distancing. Also, if you ask the police the specifics of the law they just shrug because they are just as confused about it as we are.”
Kate Kelly an expat who lives in Torreblanca said “The smoking ban is so confusing. Which is such a shame as I have felt that the Spanish approach to the Coronavirus has been well organized and communicated so far. I vape and am really unclear as to when and where I can do that now. It has made us a bit wary as to going out at night and so we have been mostly staying on our balcony.”
Maria Jose of Los Angeles bar in Albir on the Costa Blanca is aware of the problems other bars, restaurants and cafes are experiencing, but has not had any real issues herself.
“It has not really been a problem for us as we have a lot of outdoor space and we are located on the street, so it is quite easy for smokers to social distance.”
She went on to say that, “Our customers have all been very responsible when it comes to hand cleaning, wearing masks, and now keeping a distance when smoking.”
Elliott Wright, owner of popular restaurant Olivia’s in La Cala de Mijas on the Costa del Sol, has not seen the smoking ban as such a big issue and praised his customers, saying “Under the circumstances, people have understood that smoking is an issue and have politely smoked outside or in a smoke zone without issues.”