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The proposal to extend the use of the Covid passport in Catalonia is to become reality - subject to the judges' approval. This Tuesday the Catalan government has announced that the Covid certificate is to be compulsory for access to bars and restaurants, and to gymnasiums, sports centres and care homes. Until now, it has only applied to the nightlife sector and for indoor weddings and events with dancing. But with coronavirus cases continuing to rise, and dramatic increases in some European countries, the Catalan executive has decided to act. The decision is not final, because the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) has the last word. The government emphasised that this new measure does not oblige people to be vaccinated, as a negative Covid test will also be valid. If all goes according to plan, this measure will come into force later this week - at midnight, as Thursday becomes Friday.


However, there is still some doubt in how the court will resolve the matter, given that the equivalent court in the Basque Country rejected the use of the Covid passport there as a requirement for entry to nightclubs and restaurants with more than 50 diners, for which the Basque government had requested judicial authorization. By a majority of two to one, the Basque Country high court said 'no' to the measure, with court president, Luis Garrido, disagreeing with his colleagues. The decision may be appealed to Spain's Supreme Court.

The justification of the planned expansion in the use of the Covid passport, according to the Catalan government spokesperson, Patrícia Plaja, is to reduce contagion and avoid the saturation of hospitals and intenseive care units.

The first reactions

Barcelona restaurant owners take an attitude of resignation to the decision taken this Tuesday by the government. "We are not enthusiastic about the measure," admits Roger Pallarols, director of the Barcelona restauraters' guild, "but we see it as a lesser evil and we will help restaurants during the implementation process. It must be used as a substitute for restrictions on opening hours and capacity - these are completely unacceptable at the moment - throughout the sixth wave, if it ever occurs. In any case, the evolution of the pandemic has once again shown that it is a lie to assert that the economic crisis is over. To the despair of everyone  - the public, businesses, and so on - this nightmare seems to have no end. Just a year ago today, restaurants reopened after a 40-day closure."

Why apply the Covid passport now?

Coronavirus hospitalizations and ICU admissions continue to rise. This weekend Catalonia exceeded the figure of more than 100 Covid patients in intensive care, one of the signals that has put the Covid passport on the table again. CatSalut had already taken it for granted that this Tuesday the digital Covid certificate would be extended to restaurants, after only being necessary till now for night clubs and indoor weddings and events involving dancing.

As for general hospital admissions, in the last day the Catalan department reported a total of 519 (four more than Monday), but it should be remembered that patients are not discharged at the weekends. The peak figure for hospitalised coronavirus patients in Catalonia was reached on January 24th, with 3,038. ICU patients have risen from 107 to 119, a figure not seen since October 10th (103).

Other indicators also show increases. The EPG outbreak risk is at 220 points, 13 points more than yesterday. According to the latest data provided by the Catalan department of health, the Rt or transmission rate is at 1.42, a slight fall (0.04) on yesterday. In other words, every 100 people who are infected will pass the virus on to 142 more. When the Rt is below 1, it is contracting. But in Catalonia, the trend is rising: the Rt for Monday last week stood at 1.18. For its part, IA14 (incidence accumulated in the last 14 days) is 158.62 per 100,000 inhabitants. This figure has not been seen since 15th September when the summer jump in cases was on the way down.

Growth in new confirmed contagions is also taking place. Officially, Catalonia has had 1,026,708 cases of this coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. In the last 24 hours, there have 1,591 new cases reported - with the daily figure growing. At the beginning of the week figures tend to be lower: 1,676 were reported last Thursday, 1,374 on Friday, 1,663 on Saturday, 1,291 on Sunday and 894 on Monday. Last week, for the first time 8th September, the milestone of 1,500 new cases in a day was reported.

A total of 5,929,396 Catalan residents are now fully vaccinated  (2,189 in the last 24 hours). The third dose or booster dose is also being administered at a good speed. In total, 472,847 people have already received it.


Main image: A person shows their Covid passport to enter a nightclub / ACN