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Spain's Catalonia drops Covid health pass requirement for daily affairs

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Spain's Catalonia drops Covid health pass requirement for daily affairs
Catalonia follows in the footsteps of the northern region of Cantabria, where health authorities already decided to lift the Covid health pass requirement. Photo: Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP)

Catalan health authorities have announced that on Friday January 28th they will drop the Covid health pass rule for people to enter restaurants, bars and other public spaces, after experts deemed it ineffective to halt surging Omicron cases in the northeastern region.

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The Omicron variant, which has seen infection rates soar in Catalonia, means "a large part of the population is once again susceptible to getting infected whether or not they are vaccinated or have already had the illness," a committee of experts told the regional government.

"The effectiveness of the compulsory use of the Covid certificate is reduced as an extra level of security," it said, prompting the decision which was published in Thursday's regional government bulletin.

The requirement to show a Covid passport, which had been in place since late November, will be dropped from Friday in this region of 7.7 million inhabitants, the latest in a string of moves to scale back restrictions.

Catalonia follows in the footsteps of the northern region of Cantabria, where health authorities already decided to lift the Covid health pass requirement, considering the measure to have “not been effective” in helping to reduce Omicron infections during Spain’s sixth wave.

The government of the northern region of Asturias also decided on Wednesday that the Covid passport for domestic affairs is "no longer necessary" and will therefore lift the rule on Friday January 28th.

Regional governments in other Spanish regions will have to decide in the coming days whether to extend the Covid health pass rule for daily affairs, as the legal approval from local high court judges is only temporary. 

READ MORE: Cantabria region scraps the Covid health pass for being 'ineffective'

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On Tuesday, the Catalan regional government announced the end of capacity restrictions in bars and restaurants and a 10-person limit on gatherings, saying that the worst predictions for hospital admissions have not been fulfilled.

Last week, authorities also dropped a night-time curfew from 01:00 and 06:00 am that had been in force in Barcelona and much of the region since late December.

The only remaining restriction is the closure of nightlife venues which have been pushing to reopen to recoup their losses in this heavily tourism-dependent region badly hit by the pandemic.

Despite high levels of vaccination in Spain where 90.7 percent of people over the age of 12 are fully immunised, coronavirus cases exploded in Spain over the Christmas holidays, giving it one of Europe's highest incidence rates. 

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