No more curfew for Andalucía or Catalunya, ‘midnight license’ in Valencia, and other changes for this weekend
Some restrictions are expected to continue in place even after Spain’s ‘State of Alarm’ ends on Sunday, May 9, but in most cases, those limiting freedom of movement and trade will be considerably relaxed or removed.
In Andalucía, the 23.00 curfew will be moved to midnight on Saturday (May 8), ‘to avoid confusion, after which it will cease to apply.
Also in the southern region, bars will be permitted to stay open until midnight, and nightclubs and discos will reopen.
The midnight closure will be in place for three weeks, after which the situation will be reviewed.
Now that the nationwide legal instrument covering limitations has been scrapped, regional governments have to refer their proposed measures to their own High Courts of Justice (TTSSJJ) for approval – and differing verdicts mean not every department in Spain is likely to be singing from the same hymn sheet.
In the Balearic Islands, for example, the curfew between 23.00 and 06.00, checks on anyone entering the region, limits on gatherings and social meetings, and restricted numbers in places of worship will continue after the TSJ agreed to these steps, but the prosecution service opposes them and intends to appeal.
The Comunidad Valenciana, on the east coast, has gained court approval for its own procedures, which include the curfew being moved from 22.00 to midnight, but the ‘morning curfew’ remaining at 06.00; groups of friends or family meeting up are limited to 10, and numbers in places of worship are restricted to 75%.
These rules will be in place until at least May 24, when the situation will be reviewed.
Catalunya, to the north of the Comunidad Valenciana, has also been given TSJ clearance, and although gatherings have now been reduced to a maximum of six people, the curfew has been scrapped.
Places of worship have come under particular scrutiny, since the final day of Ramadan and the huge family celebration of Eid ul-Fitr is expected to fall on May 12 – depending upon the moon cycle, as the exact date is never known until the very last minute – meaning that in pre-Covid years, Eid would start with a mass morning prayer and, in the run-up to the ‘big day’, attendance at the mosque would normally be much higher.
Also, spring is normally ‘first communion season for those who follow the Catholic faith and would – under normal circumstances – include a huge family party after the confirmation service.
At the moment, only one regional government has been denied court permission to proceed with its planned restrictions, or lifting of these – the Basque Country, where the judges do not consider the regional president or lehendakari Íñigo Urkullu has the jurisdiction to shut the borders whenever incidence of contagion rises above 200 per 100,000 inhabitants (0.2% of the population) over a two-week period, nor to impose a curfew.
The same echelon of court – the TSJ – has indeed recognised regional presidents’ jurisdiction in these areas in other parts of Spain, meaning the verdict is now open to dispute.
Spain’s government had been attempting to avoid disparities of this type between regions, mindful that Article 14 of the Spanish Constitution requires that all citizens be treated equally irrespective of their postcode.
The Supreme Court, the highest contentious audience in the land – except where a case involves interpreting the Magna Carta, where the Constitutional Court takes precedence – will be called upon to issue the casting vote where a regional government and its TSJ are in deadlock.
This could lead to delays, although deadlines have been set: A regional government whose measures have been ruled out by the TSJ has three days to file a Supreme Court appeal, after which the Supreme Court itself will open a three-day window for the parties to the case to present allegations, and will then reach a final decision within five days of the end of this window.
Judges have so far said that it would not be ‘legally viable’ to apply two main restrictions on ‘fundamental rights’ without the legal umbrella of the ‘State of Alarm’, as it would contravene Article 116 of the Constitution.
These limitations on ‘fundamental rights’ are curfews and border closures.
Also, former health minister Salvador Illa – who left his post to run for regional elections in Catalunya earlier this year – said 11 months ago that ‘mobility and movement cannot be restricted in the absence of a State of Alarm’.
All this means that any curfews, or controls that effectively remove the ‘borderless’ nature of Spain’s regions, may turn out to be impossible for authorities to apply, but it could be another fortnight before this becomes clear.
In any case, everyone is strongly advised to stick to the rules they have been informed of in their region unless and until they are told there is no need to do so.
Meanwhile, the vaccine roll-out is making good progress, with most regions now onto the 60-69 age group and five of them due to start on the under-60s within the next 10 days.
The overall aim is to have everyone aged 55 and over fully vaccinated, with both doses if two of them are needed – as is the case with all bar the Janssen version – by the end of June.
Now that key workers and those particularly vulnerable due to their potential exposure or their health conditions have been immunised, injections will be administered in descending order of age until everyone who wants to be is vaccinated.