High Court extends curfew and 10-person meetings until Jan. 21

Magistrates say justice cannot be oblivious to "the enormous magnitude" of the pandemic

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La Rambla in Barcelona during the curfew.

BarcelonaThe curfew and the 10-person limit on gatherings will last at least until January 21, after Catalonia's High Court gave them the green light. It will remain forbidden to leave home between 1 am to 6 am and to get together with over 10 people, two decisions that affected fundamental rights and that needed judicial authorisation to be approved. In parallel, the Government had already extended all other restrictions, which did not require the courts' approval: nightclubs remain closed, capacity inside bars and restaurants is limited to 50%, while in shops, sports facilities, concert halls, theatres, cinemas, auditoriums and circuses with a tent it is reduced to 70%.

The measures will be applied in all Catalan municipalities with over 10,000 inhabitants and with an cumulative incidence of more than 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the previous 7 days: this will affect 132 municipalities, six more than until now, as Castell-Platja d'Aro, Cunit, El Vendrell, Mont-roig del Camp, Salt and Torroella de Montgrí will now also be under the restrictions.

The High Court considered that justice "cannot remain oblivious to the enormous magnitude" of the effects of the pandemic, and even more so, they say, given the "quite unfavourable characteristics" present during the Christmas holidays. "We are therefore faced with the preservation of fundamental rights such as life, physical integrity and the right to the protection of health, representative of a common public interest that, in the midst of a pandemic, acquire an essential character," argue the magistrates, who say that this has to be "the main criterion to be taken into account."

The curfew affects 3 out of 4 Catalans

The Govern already acknowledged that extending 14 days of restrictions was not a "pleasant or desired" decision, but said it is "necessary" to avoid "greater damage" from the sixth wave. The Prosecutor's Office changed its mind and did endorse the curfew and the 10-person limit on gatherings. It had not done the same on December 23, when the Government raised these restrictions for the first time and the Prosecutor's Office rejected them because it did not believe they were necessary. Finally, the High Court approved them, ignoring the Prosecutor's Office's criteria. On this occasion, when the Government has proposed to extend them, the Prosecutor's Office has chosen not to oppose them. Approximately, the curfew will continue to affect three out of four Catalans.