Home News Catalonia extends Covid pass to bars, restaurants as Spain cases rise

Catalonia extends Covid pass to bars, restaurants as Spain cases rise

Published on November 26, 2021

Catalonia on Friday became the first of Spain’s regions to require a Covid pass to enter bars and restaurants, as many areas mull similar measures over rising infections.

Although Spain’s infection rate remains far below that seen elsewhere in Europe thanks to its high vaccination rate, officials are worried the surge in cases will spiral as the Christmas holidays near.

Until now, Catalonia has only required the so-called “Covid passport” for night clubs but on Friday it was extended to include anyone going to bars, restaurants, gyms or care homes.

It is not required for those sitting on bar or restaurant terraces.

Four other regions, including Galicia in the northwest and the Balearic Islands, have started to demand proof of vaccination or recent recovery from Covid to enter nightlife venues.

Magda Campins, scientific adviser to Catalonia’s regional government, said the aim was to “avoid more restrictive measures that disrupt our daily lives much more” such as a lockdown.

Other regions such as Valencia in the east and Andalusia in the south are also mulling a similar move following steps already in place in other European nations like Italy and France.

Under Spain’s decentralised system of government, the regional authorities are responsible for health matters and managing the Covid crisis.

However, the requirement for a Covid pass infringes on civil liberties and therefore needs the approval of the regional courts, and judges have not always agreed.

In the northern Basque Country, a court denied the regional authority’s request, arguing its “indiscriminate” use was “not justified” given the high level of vaccination.

The Basque government has appealed the ruling to Spain’s Supreme Court, which in September gave the green light to Galicia’s request for a Covid pass but with reservations.

While those in the bar and restaurant sector prefer the pass to outright closures, they remain worried about “difficulties in implementing” the system with staff required to check documents, hospitality lobby group CEHE said in a statement.

With nearly 90 percent of people over the age of 12 fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the impact of the pandemic is being felt far less now than in the early months when the virus swept through Spain in March 2020.

Nationwide occupancy of intensive care beds by Covid patients stands at just over 6.0 percent, although in Catalonia it is above 12 percent.