Society 21/08/2021

Nearly 6,000 evicted on Barcelona's first Saturday without curfew

Health Dpt again calls for night-time lockdown in big cities to avoid crowds like those in Gràcia neighbourhood

3 min
Night atmosphere in the festivities of Gracia. In the picture, groups drinking in the Plaza del Diamante.

BarcelonaOvercrowding, street drinking parties and more than 6,000 people evicted only in Barcelona on the first Saturday without curfew. Barcelona City Council told the ARA that the Guardia Urbana and the Mossos d'Esquadra had to disperse some 2,500 people from the beach areas and the Born neighbourhood in the early hours of the morning and 3,500 more in the Gràcia neighbourhood, which is celebrating its festivities these days. Police sources have also detailed to Efe that the agents had to act in the vicinities of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (Macba) - the Plaça dels Àngels is one of the main hot spots at night - to evict around 350 people more. However, according to the same sources, no relevant incident has been registered.

The police already had to evict 4,000 people during the night of Thursday to Friday, coinciding with the fall of the night-time curfew, and, given the forecast of an increase of people who will go out legally to the streets in the early hours of the morning, the agents will maintain the operation throughout the weekend. At the moment, most of the police's actions have been in the district of Gràcia, where the weekend has started strongly due to the festivities, which attract residents from other areas of the city but also from other municipalities. In fact, more than half of those evicted early this morning by the police had decided to extend the festival with street drinking parties and without a face mask or safety distance.

"We will extend the night until the police warn us", said some, who also celebrated the end of the restrictions. "It looks like the Barcelona of 2019", assured others in statements to ACN. All of them were clear that the night would not end at half past twelve, when all the premises and activities have to end, since there is no regulation that would force them to go home. For this reason, the areas where the main crowds were found were on the streets near the squares where the concerts were being held (Plaça de Joanic, Carrer Pi i Margall and Carrer Bailèn), where the participants in the main festivities stayed and dispersed as the police arrived. These areas were only cordoned off and guarded by the Guardia Urbana and security personnel until half past one in the morning.

The rampage in the neighbourhood divides the residents of Gràcia. Some describe the atmosphere as "crazy" and call for "more control" to avoid crowds in the squares and narrow streets of the neighbourhood. Like Andreu, who says that the situation was "very disorderly": "There are a lot of people without face masks, the streets are bursting; it is a little shocking". And others like Sergio, who while regretting that there were "many people" who were not careful enough with their face mask or with the fact of respecting the safety distances, defend that it is a normal reaction after so many months with restrictions. "People needed to get all the energy out and the Gràcia festivites are a way to socialise and meet", he added.

Pending the TSJC

Friday night was the second night without curfew in Barcelona, but also in most Catalan municipalities. At this point only 19 localities have an accumulated incidence of more than 250 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. None of the big cities, such as Barcelona or its metropolitan area, maintain it by decision of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC). Last Thursday, they rejected the Generalitat's proposal to extend curfew for another week in 148 municipalities and now the Catalan Government has asked to extend it to municipalities with more than 20,000 inhabitants with an accumulated incidence in the last seven days higher than 125 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

If the court approves this, night-time lockdown would apply again in a total of 62 municipalities. And it would have to be reestablished in Barcelona and in the other big cities of the country. However, the TSJC has already announced that it will not decide until Monday whether to authorise this new curfew or not and this implies that, at least during this weekend, most Catalan towns will not have any restriction of mobility between one and six in the morning.

This scenario worries the health authorities, who fear that this judicial setback may send the wrong message to the population, such as that the pandemic is over or that there is no need to maintain prevention measures in the last weeks of vacation. For this reason, the Secretary of Public Health, Carmen Cabezas, calls for maintaining curfew in the main cities of Catalonia for "a few weeks more", since "it helps in the current epidemiological situation", especially in the municipalities with more population.