High Court grants curfew extension due to "dizzying" incidence of the virus
The Government has announced that it will come into force on Saturday
Catalonia's High Court has granted the Catalan government's request for a one-week extension to the 1 am-6 am curfew, which will come into force on Saturday across 165 towns and cities. Despite the Constitutional Court ruling that declared the first state of alarm unconstitutional, the Catalan Court considers the Government's measure to be proportionate taking into account the "dizzying" progression of the virus in recent weeks and the "explosion in infections" for those between 15 and 29.
The court ruling also accepts gatherings being restricted to a maximum 10 people for another week. The decision has coincided a Government press conference to assess the virus's incidence.
Catalonia's High Court looked at legal precedents before allowing the restrictions. Amongst these was last week's controversial decision by the Constitutional Court, which defended freedoms were suspended rather than limited during lockdown in the first wave. This different means a state of exception and not alarm would have been the correct measure to apply the restrictions. Catalonia's High Court takes note and states that a curfew is only a limitation to the freedom of movement, as it only applies at night. The Court also references the "situation of imminent grave risk" posed by the fifty wave.
"Stopping the increase in contagion is indisputably urgent and necessary," says the resolution, which also notes that, despite the pace of vaccination, "group immunity allowing a reversal of the situation and the need for restrictions on meetings and free movement" is still far off.
Clubs and bars closed, but partying continues
When justifying the need for the measure, the magistrates reference epidemiological data and recall that the current incidence of the virus in Catalonia (with 372 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) multiplies the "very high" threshold by five. It also takes into account the court is the "dizzying" speed of transmission of the virus in recent weeks. Despite the fact that nightlife has been closed for days, judges "note" that the age group with more infections (15 to 29) is also the one that continues to fail to comply with basic self-protection measure (distance, mask and hygiene) by partying on streets or beaches.
Based on the latest report by the Public Health Agency of Catalonia, the Court also warns of the risk of collapse of primary health care if the virus is not stopped and recalls that some clinics "already accumulate 17 months of delay in new diagnoses and monitoring of chronic patients with other pathologies". In addition, there are 919 professionals on sick leave because they have symptoms of having been infected or are close contacts and last week the emergency telephone 061 recorded a peak of 61,000 calls in a single day.
The situation is even worse in hospitals, with 53% more covid admissions (1,685) during the week from 12 to 18 July compared to the previous week, and an increase of 92% in ICU bed occupation. In fact, Catalan Health minister Josep Maria Argimon has already warned this Thursday that the Government expects 500 covid patients in ICU by the weekend.
Supreme Court backs local travel restrictions
Catalonia's High Court is not the only court that has endorsed measures despite the ruling of the Constitutional Court's ruling. The Supreme Court has also authorised a ban on entering or leaving the town of Peal de Becerro (Jaén), which Andalusia's High Court initially overturned. This ruling sets a legal precedent and, therefore, can be used to argue other similar restrictions
Government spokeswoman Patricia Plaja explained that the legal services of the Generalitat "are analyzing" this ruling which can help the Generalitat - and other administrations - to be argue in favour of restrictions that affect individual freedoms to curb the incidence of the virus. Plaja, in fact, stressed the importance of citizens becoming aware that "we will have to spend some time knowing that the state we are in now is the one we will have to live with during the summer".