Covid health pass: Spain’s Catalonia and Navarre get green light from judges

Covid health pass: Spain's Catalonia and Navarre get green light from judges
Will more Spanish regions get approval to introduce the Covid health pass ahead of Christmas? Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP
Two Spanish regions on Thursday received approval from their regional high courts to implement the Covid health pass in the hospitality sector and for large events, a sign that the use of this document for daily affairs could become more common in Spain.

Is the Covid health pass for daily matters be about to finally take off in Spain?

Catalonia’s High Court on Thursday approved the use of the Digital Covid Certificate for bars, restaurants, gyms and nursing homes. 

Similarly, the High Court of Navarre also authorised its use on Thursday for restaurants with more than 60 customers, nightclubs and large cultural events. 

The court decisions may mark a change in direction for a health document used domestically across most of the EU but which in Spain has never really been enforced apart from for travel. 

READ MORE: Why has the Covid health pass for daily affairs been rejected in Spain and not elsewhere in Europe?

That’s because in the vast majority of previous cases when regional governments imposed the health pass’s usage, local judges ruled against it for breaching fundamental rights and not being suitable or beneficial for the epidemiological situation at the time. 

Without the special powers awarded to regional governments during the country’s two states of alarm – which have since also been ruled as unconstitutional – local officials have had no choice but to scrap the Digital Covid Certificate for daily matters. 

This time however the Navarran High Court has said the requirement of the Covid health pass is “suitable, necessary and proportionate”, even though Covid hospitalisations and deaths are much lower than at previous stages of the pandemic. The judges’ argument is that the Covid health pass is a “softer” measure that breaches fewer fundamental rights and has “less of an impact” than other Covid restrictions.  

Navarre and Catalonia do have among the worst fortnightly infection rates in the country currently, with 431 and 202 cases per 100,000 people respectively.  

“Catalonia needs an extra way to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed, without having to apply new restrictions,” Catalan government spokesperson Patricia Plaja said on Tuesday with regard to the Covid health pass and her region’s rising hospitalisation rate, a decision this time Catalan judges have agreed with. 

In Navarre, where the city of Pamplona is the capital, police officers will be responsible for ensuring that bars, restaurants and other establishments require the Covid health pass from customers. 

Many Spanish regions attempted to impose the Covid health pass for public spaces during the summer period but until now, it has only been approved for nightlife venues in Galicia, the Balearic Islands and Catalonia.   

With infections again rising, numerous autonomous communities have once more requested the Covid health pass be approved by their high courts or that Spain’s national government move for it to be implemented across the country, something Spain’s Health Ministry has ruled out. 

So although it may be too soon to say that showing the Covid health pass to enjoy a coffee or meal out will become the norm across all of Spain, more regions may follow Catalonia and Navarre’s example ahead of Christmas.

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