Nightlife and sports sectors hold demonstrations against restrictions
Hundreds protest against nightclubs remaining closed, while others celebrate re-opening of sports centers
Barcelona saw two separate demonstrations take place on Wednesday evening, both rallying against the restrictive measures taken against certain sectors to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Outside the Catalan government headquarters, workers in the nightlife industry called on the administration to provide a safe and regulated plan to re-open clubs and dance halls. Elsewhere, sports enthusiasts celebrated the fact that sports venues are once more allowed to re-open.
On Wednesday afternoon, a Catalan High Court ruling permitted the re-opening of sports centers, gyms, and cinemas, but decided that nightclubs would remain closed for the time being.
Nightclubs to remain closed
As part of the measures applied two weeks ago, nightclubs are forced to close around Barcelona and other affected areas of Catalonia, and hundreds of workers from the sector turned up in Plaça Sant Jaume to denounce the "lack of dialogue" by the government.
Through a joint manifesto, the various organizations in the sector lament that nightlife is being singled out as "responsible for the regrowth" of the virus and have assured that "not a single case of contagion has been detected” in Catalan nightclubs.
The square was turned into an improvised club for the demonstration, full of music, speakers, turntables, and dancing, and with protest banners with slogans such as "leisure in bankruptcy" and "dance is culture and health", the employers have symbolically handed over the keys to their premises to the Palau de la Generalitat.
During the demonstration, a manifesto was read in defense of nightlife and also of young people, a group that, according to the sector, is being identified as "irresponsible and selfish."
"It seems that we have forgotten that the whole of society is recovering its activity because our rulers have decided so," the manifesto stressed. For the sector, this attitude is "a complete and unfair nonsense" and "the ban is a bad form of management that has proved unhelpful."
Sports enthusiasts celebrate return to centers
The union of Sports Federations of Catalonia (UFEC) welcomed the Catalan High Court’s decision to precautionarily allow the reopening of sports facilities and gyms as long as health measures are complied with, and celebrated with a demonstration on the streets of the Catalan capital.
The court’s decision was announced just a couple of hours before the already planned gathering, and the president of the union, Gerard Esteva, told the Catalan News Agency that they were "very happy" with the ruling.
They defend that sports centers are safe, even in the context of the pandemic, and are calling on the government now for an “effective and executive” table with the sector to address any issue and prevent “bans or forced closures” from happening again.
The street mobilization was organized to demand the opening of sports centers and gyms, but as the decision came before the gathering, the event turned more into a celebration of sports. "We have come to show that sport is a safe space for socialization," said Esteva.
At the various accesses to the sections of Carrer de Balmes, where the demonstration took place, temperature controls and hand sanitization was carried out, as well as markings on the ground to point out safety distances.