It’s been all over social media but regardlessly, here it is; the gist of the public announcement made by the Minister of Public Health, Salvador Illa.
Following the decision of the Regional Government of Galicia (Xunta) the Minister of Public Health, after consultation with all of the regional heads of government, has announced that smoking is no longer permitted in public spaces, where it is impossible to maintain a social distance of at least two metres.
Now, we’ve italicised the final clause to the above sentence because the ban does not mean that you cannot smoke, for example if you’re out walking along a country lane or anywhere of that sort: i.e., you’re not in a crowded public space such as a restaurant terrace or walking along a street in the middle of town. It certainly does not mean that you cannot smoke in your own home.
But that is just one of eleven measures taken by the Minister.
Another measure – a devastating one for the business sector – is the closure of night bars and discotheques. Councillor Illa explained, it was important that we did not gather together in groups larger than ten people, keeping to circles of people with whom we share the same roof.
What more than likely tipped the balance and precipitated this move was that on Thursday there were 2,900 cases registered in just 24 hours. Several regional governments were already inclined towards following Galicia’s example so when it was decided unanimously nobody felt that they would be at a disadvantage if they did ban smoking etc whilst other regions remained “open for business.”
As for the nightlife sector, the footage of crowded nightbars with nobody wearing masks or respecting social distancing – especially the one of a DJ spraying everybody with a mouthful of alcohol – no doubt forced the Government’s hand in this matter. It’s almost certainly a death blow for many businesses, but the bar-goers and bottle-party revellers only have themselves to blame, perhaps.
Another measure affects bars and terraces where the space between tables must be increased with a maxium of ten people to a table. Bars must close by 01.00h at the latest but no new customers must be allowed as from midnight until closure. This also includes restaurants.
Even though it was the Minister of Public Health for the Central Government that announced this unaminous decision, it is up to each autonomous region to implement it through regional-level decrees.
However, the Head of the Centro de Emergencias Sanitarias, Fernando Simón, suggested on Thursday that the increase in cases was “slight enabling administrations to apply corrective measures in a controlled manner, than when the pandemic was at its peak.”
The association of nightbars and discotheques has announced that it intends to take the matter before the courts. Furthermore, it considers the measure to be ineffective as “young people will only move their get-togethers to their own homes; i.e., flat parties.