Covid-19 in Spain: The curfew in Catalonia that tourists ignore | Spain
It’s midnight and Lorena is still dancing and drinking on Paseo del Born in Barcelona. She had been out to eat with her colleagues at a tech company and drink beers. “This is where the party takes place,” she says with a smile as three different portable speakers play music and tourists scream intoxicated on the street.
The location had been chosen once again for botellones, as street parties are known in Spain, despite the municipal decree that prohibits the consumption of alcohol outdoors and the fact that such activities violate Covid-19’s restrictions on social distancing. In addition, since Friday, a new curfew has been in place between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.
The botellón continues until the officers are right on top of the people partying
The measure, introduced by the regional government, concerns 161 municipalities in the region and has received the necessary approval from the High Regional Court. City police had to move up to 4,350 people on Friday who ignored the curfew and were still drinking and partying despite the new restrictions.
For the majority of those attending these parties – almost all tourists – they are not interested in the curfew and continue to dance and drink in the streets until they are forced to leave by the police. the botellón keep going until the officers are right on top of the party people.
As was the case with the previous curfew, introduced while Spain was on high alert, fines for non-compliance range from € 300 to € 6,000. But in the wee hours of Saturday morning, there are hardly any more people being counted – 45 throughout the region – and the authorities are content to disperse the revelers, many of whom are intoxicated after several hours of drinking in the area. the street.
“There are a lot of people in Paseo del Born, but it is not the same as the number of people in botellones in recent weeks,” said a young man in a yellow jacket bearing the logo of Barcelona city hall. “It’s because the police came here in the afternoon and have been there ever since. People are less likely to congregate when they see them. The young man explains that he comes from a company that was hired by the town hall. “We are trying to silence them,” he said. “We do it in a friendly manner and then give them these stickers,” he explains, showing a badge with the word “respect” and a logo depicting a pair of lips and a raised finger calling for silence. “They usually don’t pay attention, but we try,” her colleague said with a smile. Shortly after 1 a.m., regional and local police combed Paseo del Born in vans and on foot, dispersing the gathered people.
The other place where people congregate is on the beaches of Barceloneta. In particular, crowds form in Sant Miquel, where hundreds of people dance and drink. Street vendors profit by selling drink cans, whiskey bottles and sandwiches. The majority of participants are French, German, Italian and Dutch. All are young and very few wear masks. “At the hotel, they told us we had to be back before 1 am,” says a Dutch tourist – he may be one of the few who knows that there is a curfew in place.
At 1am, there should be no one left in the street, but the beach continues to be lively. Municipal police officers begin the task of cleaning up the area. Once this is done, tractors enter to clean up the sand while officers continue to drive street drinkers away from the neighborhood, towards Plaza del Mar. The police, however, prevent people from entering the Barceloneta neighborhood and relocate them. . towards the Joan de Borbó esplanade in the hope that they will return to their hotels.
There are people who are very drunk, there is a lot of laughter and sometimes a lost shoe. But the night unfolds without incident. On Somorrostro beach, the police are also moving people around. It is almost 2 a.m. and there are still a lot of people in the streets. This first night of the last curfew bears little resemblance to the previous one, which was in place from October 25, 2020 to May 9, 2021, and which left the streets completely deserted.
english version by Simon Hunter.