Friday, November 26

Barcelona, ​​without a curfew and powerless to contain the massive bottles

Corrillos in the squares, commotion with the decibels through the clouds, riot when someone appears with a guitar and dozens of people start singing ‘Life is a carnival’ by Celia Cruz, paddling alcohol, Guardsmen turned into improvised broom trucks … Actually, Barcelona without a curfew It is quite similar to that other Barcelona that until a sigh ago was collected every night, or at least tried to, between one and six in the morning.

that the state of alarm subsided, that the city chains bottle weekends, crowds and impotence when it comes to enforcing the current restrictions.

A scenario that has only become more acute with the arrival of summer and that yesterday led the Generalitat to ask for curfew again
for municipalities with more than 20,000 inhabitants, with a rate of more than 125 diagnosed cases per 100,000 inhabitants. A new attempt to maintain the night confinement after the refusal of the TSJC with which the Catalan executive seeks to avoid a possible sixth wave and, at the same time, put an end to the escalation of bottles and uncontrolled revelry.

Two agents of the Urban Guard patrol in one of the squares of Gràcia
Two agents of the Urban Guard patrol in one of the squares of Gràcia – Adrian Quiroga

There they are, without going any further, the festivities of Gràcia, traditional hot spot of the Barcelona summer which, after a year of decaffeinated fallow, has recovered old sensations this year. For the better, yes, but also for the worse. “It was clear that things were going to get out of hand, you just have to see what has happened in the city lately,” says a neighbor of the Travessera de Dalt, the upper border that delimits the neighborhood and where the generous deployment begins of the Urban Guard.

A little further down, on Fraternitat street, an image perfectly sums up what is happening these days at parties and, by extension, almost all of Barcelona: while inside the street, in a perimeter space, neighbors and visitors they remain disciplined seated in front of a stage set up for musical performances, just behind it dozens of people huddle and swirl without distance. The restrictions, in this case, do not go by neighborhoods, but by streets, and a couple of steps are enough to enter a chaotic hubbub of chants, jumps and euphoria spread in any way. “Look, I have not worn the mask on the street for days, but it has been to see this and put it on,” admits Álvaro, a twenty-year-old from the neighboring Guinardó neighborhood.

The controls to access the decorated streets are practically impassable, visitors respect the unique sense of visit and there are even those who take the trouble to reserve tickets for the performances, but as soon as the official itinerary is abandoned, that of the 21 decorated streets for the occasion, security measures disappear, masks disappear and common sense begins to decline. “I prefer not to get in there, let you know”, a young man comments to his companion as they try to avoid the crowd that accumulates, already at dawn, at the intersection of Travessera de Gràcia with Xiquets de Valls. “It does not make sense to control the capacity in the streets and then take four steps and it is all a riot,” adds a neighbor of the neighborhood.

«There are some things that we have not liked, there have been points, not only in Gràcia but also in some squares of Ciutat Vella, where there has been saturation, where there has been consumption of alcoholic beverages, which I want to remember that it is not that it is prohibited by the pandemic is that it is always forbidden ”, said yesterday the Deputy Mayor for Security of Barcelona, ​​Albert Batlle, when assessing the first night without a curfew in the city.

From bottle to bottle

A day “a little more busy”, in the words of Batlle himself, which resulted in 4,100 evicted, 2,000 from the streets of Gràcia and another 2,100 from the city’s beaches. To put the figure in context, at dawn on Thursday, with the curfew still in force, the police forces evicted 1,300 people from the Gràcia neighborhood. In June, in another of the periods in which the curfew was not in force, they were even counted 6,500 evicted of bottles in a single day, figures that show the magnitude of a problem that the Barcelona City Council does not know how to tackle.

The Sants festivities await on the horizon, which, together with the movement of a city in which images of large bottles have been repeated in areas such as El Born, the vicinity of Arc de Triomf or the Macba square, has led the Consistory to reinforce the police presence, with some 650 agents on the weekend and 1,000 on weekdays. Neighbors from other hot spots such as Barceloneta, already tense by months of incivism, doubt that Batlle’s call to civility will take effect and demand that the City Council close the beaches at night to avoid more crowds.

The rise of illegal bottles has also led to nightlife management Fecasarm to demand that the reopening of open-air nightclubs be authorized immediately until 3.30 am. According to the business association, the disappearance of the touch makes legal nightlife “the only solution to drinking bottles and illegal parties.” “If they were already uncontrollable, without the curfew they will be even more so”, denounces Fecasarm. In the same sense, the Barcelona Restaurant Guild claims that bars and restaurants can open until 2 in the morning.

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