CONFIRMED: Barcelona and other Catalan cities to impose curfew to fight rampant Covid surge

CONFIRMED: Barcelona and other Catalan cities to impose curfew to fight rampant Covid surge
Young people party without masks at Barceloneta beach in late May, weeks before the outdoor face mask rule was lifted. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP
Barcelona and other cities in Spain's northeastern Catalonia region will impose a night-time curfew starting this weekend to fight a surge in virus cases after the measure won court approval on Friday.

Catalonia’s regional government on Wednesday asked the courts for permission to restore a nightly curfew between 1:00 am and 6:00 am in areas where infection rates surpass 400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a seven-day period.

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

The region’s top court on Friday signed off on the measure, which will affect a total of 161 municipalities, including popular beach resorts like Sitges and Salou.

Catalonia, the epicentre of Spain’s jump in infections, has already ordered all public gatherings to finish by 12:30 am and restricted gatherings to no more than 10 people.

But images of large groups of youths gathering on Barcelona’s beaches or in popular nightlife districts have become common since Spain lifted a nationwide night-time curfew in early May.

The infection rate in Catalonia has recently jumped to 1,107 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday, more than double the national average.

Among people aged 20 to 29, the figure is more than 3,000 cases per 100,000 people.

READ ALSO: Why does Catalonia have the highest Covid-19 infection rate in Spain and the EU?

Catalonia is following in the footsteps of Valencia, its neighbouring region, which earlier this week won court approval to restore a curfew in 32 towns.

The northern Navarra region said Friday it would also seek court permission to restore a nightly curfew.

Spain’s vaccination programme has worked through age groups meaning those in their 20s and 30s are only now starting to get jabs, leaving them vulnerable to the new Delta variant.

Unlike in previous infections waves, the death toll has remained low and intensive care units have not so far not been overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said this week Spain was on track to have 70 percent of the population immunised against Covid-19 before the end of August.

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