Revelers leave Barcelona beach due to police presence shortly after curfew comes into force
First night of night restriction in 161 municipalities in Catalonia, affecting 80% of population
Loads of people drinking, loud music, fun and rubbish on the beach were again the landscape in Barceloneta beach in the Catalan capital on Friday night, like most of the weekend nights since the six-month curfew was lifted on May 9.
Yet, the party of thousands of people, mostly internationals, by the sea in the warm summer temperature abruptly came to an end on Friday – and not because they were not in the mood.
At 1 am, when the new curfew came into force in 161 Catalan municipalities for the first night, unworried crowds were still to be seen, with a number of revelers not wearing face mask or safety distancing.
Yet, shortly afterwards, dozens of police vans and officers began to sweep the area and to tell them to go home. And within 15 minutes, hardly anyone was to be seen in the site – only the loads of rubbish they left behind, promptly removed by the cleaning services, well in time for the beach-goers expected for Saturday.
The police managed to evacuate them peacefully, although some of them told Catalan News they were unaware of the curfew that had just come into force.
Those expressing their surprise in French, English, German or Italian, however left the area, as well as the minority speaking in Catalan and Spanish.
The law enforcement spent at least the following hour making sure that calmness returned to one of the most bustling neighborhoods of the capital, and they managed with any major incident reported.
This pattern was repeated elsewhere in the capital, and "around 2 am the city was mostly empty," said the Catalan home affairs minister Joan Ignasi Elena the morning after. The local police had detected 4,357 people breaching the curfew during its first night, but had no major issues to persuade them to go home.
Curfew in force
Around 80% of Catalonia's population is a curfew since the early hours of Saturday, July 17, from 1 am to 6 am.
The Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, confirmed that late-night revelers on Friday would have to return home early in Barcelona and 160 more municipalities.
This comes as the Catalan high court has given the go-ahead to the measure in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19 following weeks of skyrocketing cases in a decision that was announced on Friday at 1 pm.
The measure mainly affects municipalities with 5,000 or more residents and a 7-day Covid-19 incidence rate of 400 or more cases per 100,000 inhabitants, although it also applies to some with lower figures as they are surrounded by towns with higher rates.
Check out the 161 municipalities in the interactive map and table below: