CATALUNYA has become the first of Spain’s regions to reimpose a night-time curfew in a bid to curb COVID-19 infections over the Christmas period.
The northeastern region’s Supreme Court approved the measure requested by regional authorities after infection rates soared above 250 cases per 100,000 people fuelled by the omicron variant.
The measure will see residents confined to their homes between 1am and 6am from midnight on Thursday night.
It will last for 15 days before being reassessed meaning it will affect New Year celebrations.
Authorities also sought permission to close nightclubs, cap indoor restaurant capacity at 50 percent, and limit gyms and theatres to 70 percent capacity, in a return to strict regulations not seen since the summer.
The court ruled that the measures were “proportional” and had struck a balance between “a limited restriction of rights” and the “protection of individual and community heath”.
“Omicron has changed the panorama. We must reintroduce measures which we don’t like but which are necessary,” said the head of the Catalan regional government, Pere Aragones, on Wednesday.
Catalunya has been hard-hit by the latest wave of infections, with around 30 percent of its intensive care unit beds occupied by Covid patients, twice the national average, according to the latest data.
Spain’s central government ruled out imposing a nationwide nightly curfew instead leaving it to regional authorities to seek permission from the courts to impose their own measures.
“We are not back in March of last year because the variant is different and because we have got so far with the vaccination,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez insisted on Wednesday.
“The situation is different and, as such, we’re not going to apply the measures from back then.”
However, Spain has brought back the rule that face masks must be worn in public spaces even when outside from Thurday.
“We are going to include some exceptions, when, for example, one is practicing sports; when we are in natural spaces, such as the mountains or the beach; and obviously, when we are alone, with our family unit or with someone who is not from our family unit, but with a distance of 1.5 meters,” Sanchez explained on Wednesday after the measure was agreed in a meeting with regional health authorities.