First curfew fines

ARA follows Eixample police on the second night of curfew

From the platform you can hear a passenger validating their ticket and their keys jangling in their pocket as they walk down the stairs. This is a common scene in the less crowded stations in the Barcelona metro barely half an hour after the curfew has begun. Inside the carriages most of the seats are empty and you can choose which row to sit in without having to share it with anyone. Once you're outside it is even more desolate. It's only a few minutes to eleven o'clock at night but you can't see a soul in the immensity of the Plaça Espanya. You can count the vehicles in circulation: three buses, a garbage truck, a couple of vans and a motorbike.

It is Monday night, the second under the new curfew in Catalonia but the first in which those who break it will face fines of 300€. Police officers set up a checkpoint before midnight with four patrol cars where Gran Via rises under Plaça Espanya towards the centre of Barcelona. It is impressive to see from there the literally empty kilometres of asphalt with Plaça Universitat on the horizon. A police officer picks which vehicles to check. Of the eighty that dive past, fifteen get stopped and three of them fined.

"Good evening, where are you coming from?", the police officer asks the drivers. Many of the vehicles are taxis. In those cases, he asks the customers: "Can you roll down the window, please?" He asks them what route they're taking and almost all the taxis are taking passengers on a flight from Amsterdam who have recently landed at El Prat airport. They show their plane tickets and can continue their journey. Taxis, as well as public transport buses and vehicles carrying goods, are included in the exceptions to the curfew. A different matter if whether taxi's passengers are allowed to break the curfew, which is why they are checked by police. Officers also board buses to ensure that passengers are wearing masks and are complying with the measures.

The state of alarm allows the police to ask people about where they are going and demand them to prove it. Most of the fifteen vehicles that the Mossos inspect during the check are mainly motorcycles and some private cars: they ask the drivers for the self-responsibility certificate and also the company's certificate if the trip is for work. If they do not have any documents, the agents assess whether the person's explanation is plausible. But a few minutes after starting the control they realize without a doubt that they have caught the first offender of the night: a delivery rider who should have stopped driving an hour and a half ago.

"I don't earn enough to pay fines," he laments. The Police's report does not mention any amount because first they draw up a proposal for a penalty which will have to be dealt with later. The delivery rider says he "doesn't understand" because the food delivery company he works for had told him that he could move around until midnight and he doesn't know if the company will pay his fine. He was supposed to pick up an order at a restaurant - which should not be open either - and then deliver it.

Drug violations

The other persons sanctioned by the agents during the second night of nightly confinement are two private hire vehicle clients. Like taxis, private hire vehicles are allowed to circulate, but this does not mean its users are. In both cases, the passengers give similar reasons: they are going from a friend's house to their home or vice versa, despite the fact that none of this type of travel is allowed after ten o'clock at night. The Mossos also search them because it would not be the first time they find drugs. Indeed, one of the accused men is carrying hashish and the officers look under the car seats to check whether any other drugs have been hidden. One fine for the curfew and another for the drugs.

After midnight, the police dismantles the checkpoint. The night is quiet. Plainclothes officers have been wandering around the Eixample for some time without seeing any groups of people in places where they usually gather and drink, such as Plaça Catalunya, Plaça Universitat, Plaça de les Glòries, the parks on the side of the Sagrada Família, Joan Miró park or Sant Antoni pedestrian streets. The police patrol to keep an eye out for anyone. This does not prevent them from occasionally meeting someone walking in the street or a couple walking the dog outside the exceptions provided for. The question remains as to what will happen to the curfew on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, which, after the effects of the first wave of the Covid - with no tourists or nightlife - is when social activity takes place.

Catalan government considering a weekend lockdown

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