Society 07/12/2021

Catalonia avoids heavy-handed policing of covid pass requirement

Despite the fact that it has been compulsory in nightclubs for two months, so far no sanctions have been handed down

2 min
A worker hangs the sign reminding that it is compulsory to present the covid certificate to access the premises.

BarcelonaWhat happens if someone drinks inside a bar but does not have a covid pass? And if they have used someone else's certificate? Since last Friday, both actions are subject to fines. However, no fines have been handed down in the first days the requirement has come into force. So far Catalonia has avoided heavy-handed policing of the measure: although it is two months since covid passes becane compulsory to enter nightclubs, the police are yet to issue a single fine. In fact, businesses are confident that the Catalan Government will not be strict in its control of the covid pass requirement, because they point out that the regulation is ambiguous and that they have reached an agreement with the administration to be flexible in order to facilitate its application.

Catalonia's position contrasts events this weekend in Valencia, riot police were sent to 18 nightclubs to enforce the mandate. This operation ended up with 49 fines for non-compliance with the covid pass requirement and 264 for not wearing a mask. This police control has angered the Valencian nightlife businessmen, who have compared the operation to "Raids under Franco". In the Basque Country, the government has announced that it will sanction restaurants and nightclubs that do not demand a certificate.

Catalonia has sought a lighter approach. When Catalan Health minister Josep Maria Argimon appeared to inform that the covid pass requirement would come into force in bars, restaurants, gyms and care homes last Friday (a week later than originally planned due to technical issues with the Department's app) he appealed to the population: "It is an element of responsibility, not enforcement", he explained. Argimon took refuge in "social" responsibility because he argued that he did not like "the concept of policing" and did not want staff to turn into "police officers". Even so, he recalled that fines may be issued and that "there have been sanctions" previously.

Consulted by ARA, the Catalan police and Barcelona local police state they have no figures on how many fines have been issued in nightclubs for failing to request a covid pass since the beginning of October, when they reopened. Since the beginning of October, when they reopened, venues must request it. They say that offices may issue fines if they detect an infraction, but no operation has been set up specifically to check whether the restriction is being complied with.

Legal loopholes if a fine is issued

The regulations are not clear either. The secretary general of the employers' association Fecasarm, Joaquim Boadas, warns that the resolution published in the Diari Oficial de la Generalitat (DOGC) asks to "check" the covid certificate without mentioning the tool, which is the website the Catalan government set up to scan the QR code of each certificate and check its authenticity. Argimon also said that if you had no internet connection you could opt for "an ocular inspection". The DOGC does not mention that it is necessary to compare the covid pass with ID either. That is why Boadas complains that the resolution "leads to confusion". In fact, he asks: "How can it fines be awarded if the DOGC does not mention them?"

The director of the Gremi de Restauració de Barcelona, Roger Pallarols, claims an agreement has been reached with the Catalan government whereby bars and restaurants need not have a worker checking certificates at the door, contrary to what the regulations state. Because of this, business associations have advised bars and restaurantes issued with fines to appeal.

748 admitted to hospitals

As for the evolution of the pandemic in Catalonia, the latest update from the Department of Health reports that there are currently 748 patients admitted to hospitals for covid (28 more than the previous day), 181 of them in the ICU (four more). In 24 hours there have been more than 2,000 new infections and one death. Effective Potential Growth continues to rise and the infection rate (Rt) is 1.29: therefore, each infected person infects more than one person on average.

Meanwhile, 75.3% of the Catalan population is fully vaccinated.