Concern over firecrackers in first post-pandemic Sant Joan in Barcelona

The City Council expects a celebration as massive as that in 2019 and recommends avoiding fireworks and sky lanterns

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A Mossos de Escuadra officer clearing a beach in Barcelona the morning after the San Juan festival

BarcelonaBarcelona is preparing for a Sant Joan festival which will be reminiscent of 2019. It is focussing on two points: the first is crowds on the beaches, where around 60,000 people are expected to gather; the other is wooded areas, due to the high risk of fire throughout Catalonia. "We are in a critical moment and any carelessness can cause a fire," warned Security councillor Albert Batlle, who recalled the ban on the use of fire within 500 meters of wooded areas, and remarked that the Guardia Urbana will pay special attention to the parts of the city that are closer to the mountains. The city adds one more recommendation: avoiding as far as possible launching fireworks and sky lanterns, as they pose a fire risk. The head of the Civil Protection, Fire Prevention and Rescue Service, Sebastià Massagué, has asked for "extreme caution" and avoiding this kind of pyrotechnics.

Massagué has reported, in this sense, that the City's Fire Department faces the 2022 festival with the same criteria as before the pandemic and with the addition of this "extreme risk" of fire. Drones will be used to detect possible fire outbreaks or incidents in the area around the beaches and will work in coordination with the Home Affairs Department, which will explain specific restrictions during the festival by Wednesday. Barcelona has authorised five large bonfires: three in the Eixample, one in Sant Andreu and another in Sant Martí.

Batlle has insisted that the recommendation is to celebrate the party with family, but has taken for granted that large crowds will return to the beaches as was common before all the pandemic restrictions. Police will try to prevent partygoers from walking through the alleys of neighbourhoods such as Barceloneta and there will also be controls of parked vehicles to prevent caravans, vans or any vehicle that can be used for camping or as a warehouse for alcoholic beverages from entering the coastal strip.

The Guardia Urbana will inspect the beach bars, which may be open until 3.30 am, and control the sale of drinks. And, from six o'clock, we will see once again police accompanying cleaning teams to get the beaches empty. The local police is preparing for a "very intense" night, with about a thousand calls for various reasons, which is what was experienced three years ago, and what is expected to happen again in the first festival without restrictions of any kind.

Eight safe routes

The head of the Guardia Urbana, Pedro Velázquez, explained that Sant Joan is one of the most complicated operations of the year for the corps. It affects the entire city, although the beaches are the hotspot. Eight safe routes will be set up to prevent sexual harassment and assault in the coastal areas of Ciutat Vella and Sant Martí and also in the area of Passeig Lluís Companys and Born to minimise the risks from party areas to the nearest public transport stops. Officers assigned to these routes will patrol in the areas and will pay special attention to dark areas. An information point against sexual violence will also be set up on the beaches, and will remain in place throughout the summer campaign.

In addition to security, the city council will also set up the most important cleaning operation of the year, with an extra 91 teams and 366 workers.

Alcohol and drug test on roads

Coinciding with the festival of Sant Joan, the Servei Català de Trànsit, the Mossos d'Esquadra and local police will launch an intensive campaign of alcohol and drug tests, from today until Sunday, both on roads and in urban areas. From the days prior to the festival, police controls will be deployed and will be made randomly at any time of the day. Last year, from February 24 to March 2, an average of 208 reports were made daily for positive alcohol or drug tests. Specifically, 1,062 positives were reported, 232 of them criminal. Of the 15,716 tests carried out, 7% were positive. In addition, there were 394 positive tests for narcotics, 60% of the total number of drug tests carried out.