Interior ministry launches new website to claim back first lockdown fines

Over 24,000 fines have the right to refunds in Catalonia after Spain’s Constitutional Court ruling

Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra police in Tarragona during the first lockdown on April 11, 2020 (by Mar Rovira)
Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra police in Tarragona during the first lockdown on April 11, 2020 (by Mar Rovira) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 29, 2021 11:47 AM

The Catalan interior ministry has launched a new website allowing residents to claim back fines paid during the first lockdown.

During confinement between March 14, 2020, and June 21, 2020, Catalan police fined 65,493 people, however, there were only 24,289 paid.

These more than 24,000 fines are the ones that have the right to be reimbursed. The refunds are a result of a ruling by Spain's Constitutional Court in July, which deemed the initial lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in March 2020 should have fallen under a state of emergency, which requires prior approval from Congress, rather than a state of alarm.

The request can be made via a new website launched by the interior ministry as well as in person at a Citizen Help and Information Office or at the Interior ministry office - in both cases an appointment has to be made in advance. 

Reimbursements will be paid in full and with interest after authorities check the petition. 

The vast majority of fines are for people who were on the streets without the correct paperwork that allowed them to be. Some other reasons were fined such as people doing sport or people walking out of their assigned schedule slots, or even families walking altogether when it was only allowed to do so separately

Rules confusion

When the state of alarm was declared in March 2020, the strict stay-at-home order meant that people were only allowed out for very specific reasons. As people got accustomed to the rules, among the more unusual police statements issued was the message that taking a goat for a walk was not an excuse for leaving the house.

On a more serious note, the Arrels Foundation, which helps people in Barcelona who sleep on the streets, complained that police in the city have charged homeless people who have nowhere to go to self-isolate.