Second New Year's Eve in Catalonia with closed nightclubs and a curfew

Catalonia High Court refuses to reopen nightclubs and covid infections continue at all time high

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Cumulative incidence and community restrictions

BarcelonaNew Year's Eve in Catalonia will again see closed nightclubs and a curfew imposed between 1 am and 6 am in the most populous towns and cities. The new wave of covid has brought on restrictions that will prevent nightclubs and bars from opening for the second consecutive year after the industry's appeal to Catalonia's High Court was unsuccessful. The appeal was dismissed, as judges put "the general interests of the population" during the avalanche of contagions caused by the Omicron variant omicron before damage to businesses, which claimed the Catalan Government does not have sufficient powers to establish some of the restrictions, such as the curfew.

The High Court's ruling does not imply an end of the judicial battle to reopen nightclubs. Although the magistrates have rejected the urgent measures proposed by the industry to celebrate New Year's Eve, the litigation is ongoing. That is why the Generalitat has been given a few days to present its allegations, and then the court will rule on the issue.

Yesterday, the number of covid infections in Catalonia returned to set a new record: 25,174 cases in one day. This trend has also caused a progressive increase in hospital pressure. According to the latest balance by the Department of Health, 1,610 patients have been hospitalised due to covid –45 more than the previous day–, 426 of whom are in intensive care –13 more than the previous day–. Another indicator that shows that the virus can be caught easily is that the rate of contagion (Rt)is 1.86: therefore, each infected person infects a little less than two people. Effective Potential Growth continues to rise and exceeds 3,000 points. There have also been 45 deaths.

Half an hour to vacate premises

Nightclub and bar business association Fecasarm has explained that restaurants will be allowed to open for New Year's Eve and will have half an hour leeway to vacate the premises, between half past midnight until 1 am. Even so, the sector has warned of the effect that the closure of nightclubs might have, with a possible increase in raves and illegal parties. The guild expects there to be more than 1,500 and that public order is put "at risk", as happened in September during the Festes de la Mercè in Barcelona or a year ago with the rave in Llinars del Vallès. This week the Mossos d'Esquadra and the Agents Rurals already dismantled a rave at the Estany d'Ivars, in Vila-sana, where a group of eight people was preparing for the party. The Department of Home Affairs held a meeting for the New Year's Eve operation with representatives from the Catalan and local police.

The officers will carry out an operation "to ensure compliance" with the curfew in the municipalities where it applies, as well as "to ensure proper use" of public spaces to avoid a massive occupation. According to Home Affairs, the focus will be on "prevention" of unauthorised parties where there are crowds of people. The device is part of the plan that was activated by the current covid restrictions, which will still be in force until at least next week: patrols have increased and night shifts reinforced. For New Year's Eve there will also be about 200 Catalan police officers carrying out alcohol and drug controls in 52 checkpoints across the country. "In a context of very high circulation of the virus, I trust in citizens' prudence and the responsible spirit," said Home Affairs minister Joan Ignasi Elena in a tweet.

Tuit of the Minister of Interior

Outside Catalonia, as the Spanish government has not set any guidelines, the measures for New Year's Eve change in each Spanish region. The restrictions may also involve curfews, the closure of nightclubs, the reduction in capacity or the obligation to present a covid pass to enter premises.