Tight nightclub restrictions in place for another month, says Catalan president
Measures will not be lifted until ‘some weeks after’ school starts up again on Sept 13
The Catalan government is wary of loosening coronavirus restrictions on nightclubs until "some weeks" after classes resume on September 13, with the return of two million students to school posing a huge challenge for a region still coping with the consequences of the fifth wave of the pandemic.
Under the measures currently in place, the nightlife sector can open until 12.30 am, but only their outdoor seating areas, while dancefloors and indoor areas must remain shut.
After spending 15 months closed due to the pandemic, the reopening of nightclubs last June provided some relief to a sector brought to its knees by the virus and the measures to contain it. But the easing of measures was short-lived, as the rapid spread of the Delta variant brought with it a U-turn on reopening plans.
"The last time we tried to reopen [the nightlife sector] there was a spike in infections"
Pere Aragonès · Catalan president
While Catalonia has passed the fifth wave’s peak of contagions, its lingering effects are still being felt in hospitals and intensive care units, with occupancy levels still high.
But the nightlife sector believes that it’s time to lift restrictions, as a court’s decision to put an end to the curfew two weeks ago has led thousands of revelers to party in the streets and on beaches at night in Barcelona and other towns.
However, Catalan president Pere Aragonès made it clear that his government is not considering loosening its grip on the nightlife sector any time soon.
"Let’s wait for school to start up again and then give ourselves a few weeks," he said on Monday in an interview with Catalan public broadcaster TV3.
"The last time we tried to reopen [the nightlife sector] there was a spike in infections," said Aragonès, while insisting that Catalonia is still in the midst of the fifth wave of the pandemic.
Following a night of clashes between revelers and police in Barcelona on Sunday, local authorities called the situation "very worrying" and "complicated," and urged citizens to behave "civilly."