The Catalan government will scrap the obligatory use of Covid passports to enter bars, restaurants, cultural events, and all other establishments, from midnight Thursday going into Friday.
The executive had initially planned to extend their use, but on Wednesday evening it was confirmed that they will no longer be required.
After a late meeting between the government officials in charge of managing the Covid-19 pandemic, authorities came to this decision on the basis that the measure worked when the Delta variant was prevalent, but now that the much more transmissible Omicron strain of the coronavirus is dominant in Catalonia, and because the vaccine seems to prevent severe illness but not prevent transmission, then the use of the Covid passport to enter establishments is rendered somewhat redundant.
“The Omicron stain has proved to be able to escape immunity, thus reducing the prevention of the infection compared to the Delta variant,” the government statement published on Wednesday evening reads.
“For this reason, an important part of the population is likely to get infected, regardless of whether they have vaccinated or gone through the illness. The result of this is that the effectiveness of making the Covid certificate obligatory is reduced.”
Until now, showing proof of vaccination has been required to enter bars, restaurants, cultural events, gyms, and care homes.
In parallel, on Tuesday, the government already announced that the 10-person cap on social gatherings would be scrapped, meaning that from Friday the only Covid-19 restriction in force will be the closure of nightlife.
However, industry leaders suggest that February 11 has been earmarked as the re-opening date for this sector – before such businesses were forced to close ahead of Christmas, Covid pass was also required to enter.
The sector met with the government on Tuesday afternoon to assess the situation.
From that meeting, February 11 was mentioned as a possible reopening date, “but we are very worried because we have not been assured that it is the final date, it is not yet certain,” the secretary-general of the Nightclubs Guild of Barcelona, Ramon Mas, said.
If nightlife does return, the conditions would be almost like normal, with the usual opening hours, 80 or 100% capacity and with a dance floor the same as pre-pandemic times.
However, industry leaders were left “very disappointed” leaving the meeting with authorities. “They have not specified or justified anything. We are concerned about the message of insecurity,” nightlife association head David Lopez said.
Joaquim Boadas, secretary-general of the nightlife association, also made a plea for economic aid “in line with the restrictions” placed on the industry.
According to Boadas, the financial aid “only covers 0.5% of the accumulated losses; aid of €100 million for losses of more than €35 billion. Totally insufficient and ridiculous.”