Society 22/03/2021

Fines for breaking travel restrictions double

Checkpoints on roads, with fewer infractions related to bars and curfew

2 min
Mossos control in Montseny Natural Park

BarcelonaThe first weekend in which travelling inside Catalonia was allowed as long as you stuck to your cohabitation bubble has finished with twice as many fines as last weekend for breaking travel restrictions. Between the 12th and the 14th of March, about 600 fines were handed out; between the 19th and the 21st of March the number jumped to about 1.100, according to police data. While these penalties increased, the fines breaking curfew and restrictions on the hospitality industry decreased. This may simply indicate that figures depend on which area the police focus on.

The Department of Home Affairs and the police warned that they would intensify controls on the roads because they foresaw more mobility as a result of the relaxation of the anticovid measures. Traffic in the metropolitan area of Barcelona grew on Friday by 4% week-on-week; on Saturday, 55%; and on Sunday, 70%. An increase accompanied by more checkpoints that, consequently, meant more fines. On the other hand, this weekend, fines on bars and restaurants dropped from 180 to 50; and from over 1.000 to 800 for breaking the curfew. All in all, last weekend 1.800 fines were given and this one about 2.000.

With hundreds of people breaking the restrictions, is there a risk that the measures will no longer be effective? The professor of criminal law and criminology at the UB Marc Pintor recalls that "most people comply because there is a social concern about covid". According to Pintor, this concern means people avoid large gatherings and wear the mask. But the clinical psychologist and member of the board of the Official College of Psychology of Catalonia, Jaume Descarrega, notes that "the most important fatigue is emotional". Descarrega speaks of pandemic fatigue, which makes people relax in the restrictions that are adopted by "lack of hopes".

Perception of the risk of sanction

Pintor warns that the analysis that the evolution of fines allows is imprecise, because the measures are changing: "We cannot make comparisons." But he adds that a factor that weighs on the legitimacy of the rules is their compliance, because "if everyone wears the mask this influences those who do not wear it". Pintor, who is a member of the College of Criminologists of Catalonia, remarks that police controls also contribute to "maintain the perception of the risk of sanction". That is why Descarrega sees "hopelessness" as a danger, because it is what can cause "people to say they are giving up".

The psychologist and psychoanalyst warns that demotivation can have both an emotional consequence and cause anxiety, discomfort and restlessness. "This can translate into certain behaviours," he explains, which can make some people decide to give up and no longer follow the restrictions. "We have to be very careful," he warns. A warning that links with the message of policy makers, who have invoked the idea of "giving air" with new anticovid measures.