Catalonia seeks to reimpose curfew in Barcelona

Catalonia seeks to reimpose curfew in Barcelona

Catalonia seeks to reimpose curfew in Barcelona

Catalonia’s regional government sought on Auug. 20 to reimpose a curfew in Barcelona and dozens of other cities in northeastern Spain, a day after a court ordered the measure lifted.

The regional government in mid-July imposed a nightly curfew between 1:00 am and 6:00 am in most municipalities to fight a surge in virus cases, and Catalonia’s top court then gave the green light to extend it three times.

But on Thursday, faced with a request by the regional government to keep the curfew in place in 148 municipalities, the High Court of Justice of Catalonia said the measure was not justified in 129 of them, because infection rates there had improved.

So the regional government on Friday made a fresh request to keep the measure in place, at least in Catalonia’s most populous cities.

It asked the court for permission to impose a nightly curfew in municipalities with over 20,000 residents which have an infection rate of more than 125 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days, instead of 250 cases as in its previous request.

This would apply to 62 municipalities, including Barcelona and popular beach resorts like Lloret del Mar, Salou and Cambrils.

"The proposed measure is necessary to meet the goal of controlling the fifth wave of the pandemic," the Catalan government said in a statement.

The court is set to deliberate on the request on Monday.

The curfew is intended to discourage social gatherings on beaches and in parks after nightclubs close at 12:30 am, which was suspected of fuelling a spike in cases of the highly-contagious Delta variant, especially among unvaccinated young people.

Catalonia, a region of around 7.8 million residents, had an infection rate of over 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants when it imposed the curfew in mid-July, double Spain’s national average.

But as of Thursday that figure had fallen to 317, lower than the national average of 360, according to health ministry figures.

Health is the responsibility of regional governments in Spain, but measures affecting freedoms, such as freedom of movement, must be authorised by the courts.