Outdoor spaces of nightclubs to open until 3 am, bars until 1 am from Thursday

Catalan government extends social life times as pandemic situation improves, but indoor areas to remain shut

A nightclub in Sitges during a Covid trial (by Ajuntament de Sitges)
A nightclub in Sitges during a Covid trial (by Ajuntament de Sitges) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 20, 2021 08:48 PM

The outdoor spaces of nightclubs will be able to open in Catalonia until 3 am from Thursday, two and a half hours later than current pandemic restrictions allow. Such businesses will have 30 extra minutes to empty the venue, until 3.30 am. 

Meanwhile, bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers until 1 am, half an hour later than currently.

Yet, indoor spaces of nightlife businesses must still remain closed.

These measures were decided by the civil protection coordination committee Procicat on Monday evening.

The decision comes only a few days before Barcelona and Tarragona celebrate their annual celebrations, La Mercè and Santa Tecla, and after the Catalan capital's mayor, Ada Colau, urged for the restrictions on nightlife to be loosened in order to avoid mass street drinking parties known locally as 'botellones'.

8,000-strong illegal university party

Yet, not only has the sharp decrease in the incidence of Covid-19 reignited the debate on nightlife on Monday but so have the recent incidents on the UAB university campus last Saturday. Some 8,000 people attended an illegal party, while large street gatherings are also expected this weekend in Barcelona coinciding with La Mercè and Santa Tecla.

A number of attacks, apartment break-ins and robberies, as well as a sexual assault were reported at UAB, which authorities believe might be have been plotted by organized groups.

Barcelona mayor: 'People want to go out'

On Sunday, Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau, called for the reopening of nightlife ahead of La Mercè.

"Now that the curfew has been lifted and the cap on social gatherings has also been removed, and that authorities have sent out the message that with over 70% of the population vaccinated we can practically return to normal life but for face masks, people want to go out and recover their social life," she said in an interview with El Periódico.

"We think that the reopening of the nightlife sector must be considered because it would relieve some pressure on the Barcelona metropolitan area and would prevent a La Mercè 'call effect'."

Covid-19 situation improving

The debate on whether to reopen nightlife in Catalonia is once again intensifying, especially as the pandemic is, at the moment, under control.

Indeed, Sunday marked the lowest daily Covid-19 transmissions since June 2020, with only 119 new cases reported by PCR or antigen tests – and 146 also counting those diagnosed with antibody tests and others.

The outbreak risk has also reached its lowest point since summer 2020 as this indicator is at 73 as of September 19.

An outbreak risk of above 100 is considered to be 'high' risk and authorities deem anything above 200 to be 'very high' risk. It is calculated using an iEPG index, which is found by multiplying the average spread of the virus over the past seven days by the cumulative incidence over the past two weeks.

The outbreak risk was above ‘very high’ levels for most of the summer, only falling below the 200-point threshold on August 30 and below the 100 threshold on September 9.

The remaining indicators are also evolving favorably, with the transmission rate at 0.86 – well under 1, the threshold above which authorities are concerned. The transmission rate indicates the number of people who get the virus per every positive case.

The number of people hospitalized due to Covid-19 has also been falling. At 595 on September 19, it is at levels similar to those before the fifth wave. There are also 204 patients who require ICU care, down from the 582 who did on August 8 at the peak of the latest wave.