Court forces Basque government to reopen the hospitality sector, closed by the pandemic

The ban affected bars and restaurants in municipalities whose incidence rate was above 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days

Oskar Bañuelos
1 min

VitoriaThe High Court of Justice of the Basque Country (TSJPV) has agreed on Tuesday to annul the decision of the Basque government to close the hospitality industry in those municipalities that exceed the incidence rate of 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days. This measure was being applied since mid-December and right now this red zone affected 85 municipalities; a list that includes the three capitals, Vitoria, San Sebastian and Bilbao, and cities like Irún or Barakaldo. This Wednesday, and after the TSJPV has taken into consideration the appeal filed by the Basque hotel associations, all bars and restaurants may open again.

The resolution adopted by the administrative contentious court, despite being a measure qualified as a precautionary, questions whether the Basque government's reasons for closing the hospitality business have an epidemiological basis. In this sense, they emphasise that in December there was no "rise in infections" when the hospitality industry was operating under certain restrictions. In its view, "the influence of the opening of catering establishments is not sufficiently clear with the high level of incidence of the virus after the celebration of Christmas. Moreover, it credits the idea that "an important part of the epidemiologists" -although it gives neither how many nor which- point out that "80%" of the infections have occurred in private areas and not in these establishments. The Basque high court understands that measures such as capacity control, restricted opening hours and maintaining social distance between customers is sufficient to "minimise risks" of contagion.

The decision has caused great discomfort within the Basque government, which was not in favour of relaxing the measures against the pandemic at this time. The counselor-spokesman, Bingen Zupiria, has avoided criticising the court directly and regretted that regions do not have all the "legal guarantees" to act against the pandemic.