Misc 30/10/2020

"After 1 a.m. you only see a few taxis and cleaning vehicles "

Curfew leaves Barcelona empty at night and the Guàrdia Urbana detects greater compliance

Pau Esparch
3 min
Control de la Guàrdia Urbana a la plaça Francesc Macià de Barcelona, buida a la mitjanit

BarcelonaThe strange, changing normality of Covid-19 has incorporated the curfew so quickly that it already feels old although it was only put in place five days ago. The avalanche of new restrictions has added to the confusion: one motorcyclist was convinced that from 10 pm to 6 am he can ride his bike as much as he wants as long as he doesn't leave town. An officer from the Guàrdia Urbana explains that the curfew forces him to stay home at night and that he may not drive around the streets of his city or any other. This conversation at a police checkpoint at midnight in Plaça de les Drassanes, however, is an exception; the Guàrdia Urbana detects more and more compliance with the curfew.

Un agent comprova la documentació d'un motorista a la plaça de les Drassanes

"Barcelona is empty at night. It looks like the first lockdown, as if it were memories of March or April," says Albert Artero, deputy chief inspector of a night unit of the Guardia Urbana. But Artero notices a difference in this second wave: at night there are fewer people in the streets. Whether it's because you can now go out during the day or because the measures are more respected, the result is that Avenida Diagonal, Gran Via and Avenida Meridiana are empty at the times when most people don't work. "After 1 a.m. you only see only a few taxis and cleaning vehicles", explains the sub-inspector.

L'avinguda Diagonal de Barcelona literalment buida abans de la mitjanit

An officer driving an unmarked car lowers the window at 10.50 p.m. "Where is your mask?", he asks a man walking alone on the pavement in Poble Sec. "I've just parked and I'm coming home. No one's here," he answers as he reaches into his pockets to get a mask. After a while another man walks a dog along Avinguda Paral·lel. He excuses himself by saying that he has recently left work. These are some very specific scenes which the police have encountered during curfew, where rather than immediately issue a fine, they have tried to empathise with people.

A la plaça de les Drassanes el control arriba a tenir una cua d'una desena de vehicles

Artero remembers that the first few days some supermarkets and bars or restaurants were still open beyond their permitted opening times. According to the police, these breaches have ceased to exist as the week progressed. As for street parties, they have also been reduced to a minimum because night-time confinement has limited their options. Even so, the police are on alert to check that, between La Castanyada and Halloween, there is no upsurge of people at night. Precedents are not lacking, because this week they have caught three people in the early hours of the morning coming out of a hotel where they had had an orgy.

Un policia inspecciona amb la llanterna l'interior d'un cotxe

The sub-inspector of the Guardia Urbana claims that, after a few days of being more "pedagogical", they now fine all those people who state they are breaking the rules because they do not agree with them. These, however, are minority attitudes, according to Artero, who has been taking part in nighttime checkpoints.

Dealers, but no burglars

Some fines issued at checkpoints are for making unauthorized trips during curfew, such as visiting friends. Among those who work, almost all carry the self-responsibility certificate, although the police have warned that most companies do not specify their workers' working hours.

The police also find drugs: in Plaça Francesc Macià a driver is stopped carrying illegal substances and an extendable baton - a prohibited weapon. Officers have verified that traffickers use short-term hire vehicles to transport drugs, in order to make them less visible. On the other hand, burglars have vanished because they see that the lack of activity can give them away.

La Guàrdia Urbana també atura un ciclista durant el toc de queda

Delivery riders who deliver food to homes, who received the first curfew fines, have ceased to be present at this time of day. Those who continue are those who, with their bike, motorbike or car, make the same journey every night to go to or from work. One commuter is being stopped for the third tim this week. As he is about to get off his bike to get his papers, the policeman waves him through - he recognises him.