More police presence to enforce the curfew

Guardia Urbana will deploy between 20% and 25% more officers at night in Barcelona, and the Mossos 300 more police officers

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A waiter sweeps the terrace of a restaurant on Avinguda Gaudí at 00.30 at night.

BarcelonaThe curfew, which will come into force this Friday night, will mean greater police presence on the streets of the 161 municipalities affected, to enforce the new rules. The reinforcement of officers in Barcelona will be concentrated in areas where there have been more crowds lately, such as beaches. The head of Barcelona's local police, the Guardia Urbana, has explained that officers in the afternoon shift will stay on for a few more hours "until there is more calm and security". The night shift will also be reinforced, with between 20% and 25% more officers.

The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, already warned a few days ago that she would ask for support from the Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, to enforce the restrictions. The head of the corps in Barcelona, commissioner Marta Fernández, explained that there will be an "increase in the number of police officers on duty at night," especially in the most sensitive places where there are usually crowds, and inspections of premises will also be made to verify that closing times are respected. In total, there will be 300 agents of the Mossos more throughout the country to enforce the curfew in cities and also monitor that there is no movement between towns. Thus, there will be 61 public safety patrols, 35 plainclothes police units and 17 riot police units.

This morning, Catalan Minister of Home Affairs Joan Ignasi Elena had already advanced that the department will allocate about €2m to Mossos d'Esquadra's overtime agents, which corresponds to the 100,000 hours of overtime that will be needed to enforce the curfew. "And if more is needed, we will allocate resources," he added. Of these 100,000 hours, 30,000 would correspond to the measures prior to the curfew and a forecast of 75,000 for the curfew have been added. The officers will begin patrolling at 10 p.m. to explain that you must be at home by 1 am.

Barcelona City Council and the Government have announced police reinforcement at the Local Security Board. In statements to the media, the secretary general of the Department of Home Affairs, Oriol Amorós, has celebrated that the High Court has endorsed the curfew. Although he admitted that it was a measure that "restricted rights", he said it was "justified" because the situation was "serious". The deputy mayor of Security of the City Council , Albert Batlle, has asked the residents who will be affected by the curfew "to stay at home" at night. "There is a lot at stake", and, echoing Amorós, also assured that "data fully justify the decision" the Government has taken, which the justice system has endorsed.

The Prosecutor's Office had endorsed the measure

The Government asked on Thursday for the endorsement of Catalonia's High Court to decree a curfew between one at night and six in the morning in towns with over 5,000 inhabitants badly affected by covid, a total of 161. This Friday morning, the Catalonia's High Court backed the curfew, taking into account the technical and health reports provided by the Government.

In its fifteen-page brief, the Prosecutor's Office recalls that international and local experience shows that preventive measures to reduce mobility and contact between people have been "effective" in containing the transmission of the virus. The prosecution cites case law of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court, and even the order of Valencia's High Court which, a few days ago, authorised a similar measure similar. That is why, given the high numbers of infection in the affected municipalities, the Prosecutor believes the measure are "proportionate" in order to prevent mobility, except for justified reasons, between 1 am and 6 am, for a week. "The measures have a limited character, because they are adapted to real levels of transmission and positivity at each moment and for each municipality with objective indicators," says the Prosecutor's Office.

In fact, the key to endorse the measure is the interpretation made by the court on whether the curfew only limits the right of free movement - as the Valencia High Court thinks - or whether it is a suspension - as the Canary Islands' High Court opined in the case of Tenerife. The fact that the Public Prosecutor's Office views the Government's proposal favourably does not imply that this is the position of the High Court either. In the Canary Islands, for example, the Public Prosecutor's Office did not oppose the restriction and yet the court overturned it

Had Catalonia's High Court not endorsed the measure, the Government would have appealed to the Supreme Court. In fact, this is what the Canary Islands' government has done. Spain's Supreme Court decision would establish legal precedent for further measures.

First night with the new restrictions

In any case, Thursday night was the first in which public establishments and activities had to close from 00.30 to 6 h, although concerts have been allowed to close half an hour later in order to have time to get crowds out. The Official Journal of the Generalitat de Catalunya published the new restrictions on Thursday. These new measures also limit meetings and family and social gatherings to a maximum of ten people, both in public and in private, except if they are cohabitation bubbles, and prohibit eating or drinking in groups on public spaces.

In Barcelona we could see some unusual images, such as the traditional pub Michael Collins, in the neighbourhood of the Sagrada Familia, with the shutters down at 00.30 h, or the terraces of the bars and restaurants of Gaudí Avenue without any customers at midnight. 24-hour shops have also had to close at 00.30 h.

A pub in the Sagrada Familia district closed at 00.30 am.
A 24 h shop closed at 01.00 h in Industria street.