6,500 celebrating end of curfew dispersed in Barcelona in first night after state of alarm
Large groups of young people drink in public without safety measures in several municipalities as doctors concerned
Barcelona's local police dispersed 6,500 party-goers celebrating the end of curfew on Saturday night from midnight, when the state of alarm came to an end.
Officers removed people in 31 locations in the Catalan capital, with large gatherings especially on Sant Miquel and Bogatell beaches, and in the Gràcia neighborhood, some without safety distancing or face masks.
The local council's security head, Albert Batlle, said on Sunday morning that the law enforcement's aim was to "prevent" Covid-19 transmissions, and not to fine.
Indeed, both the Catalan and local police across the country had prepared presence equivalent to that of New Year's Eve and Sant Joan, the eve of June 24, a summer solstice celebration where bonfires and fireworks spread across streets, squares and beaches.
The new scenario prompted fireworks and cheers in the streets at midnight, when a lot of groups of mostly young people took to the streets in a cheerful mood to stroll, to celebrate, and some also to drink in public.
In several municipalities, also such as Lleida, crowds were seen, with hundreds of people gathered to party and drink.
The footage of large celebrations was a reason of concern to some doctors: Jaume Padrós, president of the Barcelona's doctors association, tweeted at 1 am: "I am going to sleep deeply concerned. There are too many people celebrating the end of curfew as if it were New Year's Eve."
"I fear the consequences. I call for responsibility, we are still under a pandemic."
Loosening of measures after state of alarm
The state of alarm carries the end of the curfew, but the cap of six people on gatherings is still in force, something that not always was complied.
Catalonia's land borders opened at midnight between Saturday and Sunday, so free traveling any time of the day is allowed again.
Bars and restaurants are permitted to close by 11 pm from Sunday, including both indoor and outdoor seating areas.
Amusement parks are now allowed to open at 30% capacity, while community center activities for the elderly, up until now capped at 6 people, will be extended to 50% capacity as long as venues are sufficiently ventilated.
Yet, the government decided to keep the 6-person cap on gatherings, something greenlighted by the Catalan high court.
Magistrates also approved a 50% capacity limit for religious ceremonies from Sunday.
These Covid-19 restrictions will be in place for 15 days until at least May 23, after which they may be extended or modified.
As the state of alarm is over, how will life be in Catalonia from now on? Have a listen to our latest podcast on measures, how the vaccine rollout is progressing, and what summer 2021 will look like.