MALAGA has begun handing out fines for smoking outdoors following a nationwide ban on the habit announced at the weekend.

Following the ‘recommendation’ from Madrid, the Junta de Andalucia published in its Official Gazette (BOJA) on Sunday that the ban on smoking outside would come into force on Monday.

In Malaga city, the very first day saw a fine handed to a smoker who had lit up on Calle Marques de Larios, in the centre.

The young man was smoking next to his friend who was less than two metres away and who was also wearing their mask incorrectly.

According to Diario Sur, there were six more similar fines handed out on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Wednesday, three people were fined for smoking together on the terrace of a bar in the La Princesa neighbourhood, failing to respect the two-metre safety distance.

According to the new measure, two metres must be kept between the smoker and any other person, even if they are also smoking.

The rules apply to any smoking device, including vapes, shisha pipes and e-cigarettes.

The BOJA ruling said the smoking ban is based on ‘scientific evidence’ that shows how potentially infectious droplets can be carried by smoke.

Andalucia was forced to perform a U-turn on the smoking ban after saying last week that there was no evidence that such a measure would actually reduce COVID-19 transmission.

The Junta was preparing a study to investigate whether or not such a move would lower the risk of people becoming infected with the virus.

The penalty for smoking outside within two metres of a person ranges from €100 to €3,000.

Establishments such as bars or restaurants may also be fined for allowing customers to smoke without respecting the two-metre distance.

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