Spain court orders end to Barcelona virus curfew

By: AFP      Published: 06:38 PM, 19 Aug, 2021
Spain court orders end to Barcelona virus curfew

A Spanish court on Thursday lifted a coronavirus curfew imposed on most of Catalonia, including the capital Barcelona, leaving it in place in just a fraction of the northeastern region.

Catalonia's government in mid-July imposed a nightly curfew between 1:00 am and 6:00 am in most municipalities to fight a surge in virus cases, and the region's top court then gave the green light to extend it three times.

But on Friday, faced with a request by the regional government to keep the curfew in place in 148 municipalities, the High Court of Justice of Catalonia said the measure was "not justified" in 129 of them, because infection rates there had improved.

"In these circumstances, the measures are not so much justified on health grounds, but for reasons of security or public order," the court said in its ruling to explain why it was turning down the Catalan government's request.

The curfew is intended to discourage social gatherings on beaches and in parks, which had fuelled a spike in cases of the highly contagious Delta variant, especially among unvaccinated young people.

However, the court did keep in place for one more week a ban on public or private gatherings of more than 10 people throughout Catalonia.

Like the rest of Spain, the region which is popular with tourists has seen its number of infections drop in recent weeks.

Catalonia's infection rate stood Wednesday at 328 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a 14-day period, below the national average of 378 cases, according to health ministry figures.

But the region still has 42 percent of its intensive care unit beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, the highest rate among Spain's 17 regions.

Spain has fully vaccinated 64.1 percent of its population against the virus, one of the highest rates in Europe.

The average for the entire European Union is 55.5 percent, according to an AFP tally based on official government figures.

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