This Tuesday night will be one of the last in which customers can access, at least for 15 days, the dance floors of Catalan discos. The Generalitat announced this Tuesday the closure of nightlife in indoor spaces from this Friday. EL PAÍS took the pulse of the nightclub areas of Barcelona last night but, despite the fact that in three days it will no longer be possible to go dancing, the clients did not come either. Meanwhile, the businessmen fit, badly, a new setback of the Administration towards their businesses and accused the Generalitat of closing them without any type of scientific basis. This Wednesday, the Minister of Health, Josep Maria Argimon has denied this accusation and has assured, in an interview on Catalan television, that 25 Covid outbreaks have been generated in discos in recent weeks.
Spain yesterday lost the semifinal of the Eurocup against Italy and according to the guards of the leisure area located next to the Somorrostro beach -and the Hospital del Mar- when there is a match it greatly influences the clientele. The area was almost deserted. “Do not think that it is like other years because the covid is very noticeable,” warns a security officer at the Opium nightclub. In this area are concentrated various entertainment venues that, at the same time, have a restaurant license. From Friday they will only be able to serve meals. “Now there are many French, also Spanish, but little else. With the decision of the Generalitat they leave many of us without work ”, denies a waitress in the access of one of the premises.
David López is the president of the nightlife association, Fecasarm, and director of the Costa Este group that, among others, owns Opium and Pacha on Somorrostro beach, the Bling Bling on Tuset street or the Costa Este tents. in Calella de Palafrugell. “We always end up paying the same, it seems that they have had very easy to make the decision to close the blinds of our businesses, from the chair of a counseling, when then the difficult thing is to reopen them,” he denies. López warns that only in Opium and Pacha will be without work, as of Friday, about 300 employees.
“In October 2020, from Fecasarm, we presented a plan to, with an agreement with pharmacies, perform antigen tests at popular prices for our clients. Customers would take the test and download an application to the mobile phone that they would present at the entrance of the nightclubs. With it, we would verify that 48 hours before entry the antigen test had been negative. It was a very effective access control. Then the Apollo or Sant Jordi pilot tests were carried out. They have been of no use. They have not counted on us and now they are forcing us to close again. They do not realize that many discos are condemned to not having customers until Sant Joan in 2022 ”, laments López.
Several French clients enter Opium and one of the guards passes a metal detector one by one to all who enter. Nobody wears a mask. In fact, no one has left their hotels with the mask. EL PAÍS has asked several clients, all tourists, and none of them knew that the nightclubs will no longer open on Friday.
Robert Massanet, director of the Sutton nightclub in the upper area of Barcelona, describes the decision of the Generalitat as a “real disaster” for the sector, which has been closed since 2020 for about 15 months. “We have been criminalized after being open only from Sant Joan. It is clear that we cannot be the culprits. We, for example, reduced the capacity to 25% and put tables on the dance floor, turning it into a pub. We have taken care of our clients and our workers and what the Generalitat does is punish us ”, regrets Massanet. The director of the Sutton warns that more than a hundred employees have been “hung” and without work even though they thought they would have a job all summer. “After 15 months closed, we invested a lot of money in updating the premises and in maintenance because things that are closed are spoiled. Also in buying stock and now they are forcing us to close again ”, he laments.
Ramón Mas, owner of the Worlf nightclub in Poblenou, is also the general secretary of the Guild of Nightclub Entrepreneurs of Barcelona and the Province and president of the National Federation of Nightlife “España de Noche”. “The sector is not the culprit of the outbreaks and if they force us to close the Generalitat it will have to compensate us because this is an abuse,” he maintains. But he believes that the decision to close the nightlife will increase the bottles and increase, even more, the infections. “The closure imposed on us by the Generalitat leaves more than 20,000 workers in 3,500 companies in Catalonia without employment,” he warns.
Meanwhile, illegal street vendors try to put roses and beers on everyone who walks through the nightclubs area of Somorrostro beach. They know it’s Tuesday and they won’t be very successful today. Right on the seafront, a young woman offers “free transportation” to a strip club on the Rambla. He does not know if the peculiarity of the business, which he promotes with a laminated sheet that shows potential customers, will also be affected by the closing of nightlife next Friday.
With the clubs closed, the fear that the Barcelona City Council has is that the bottles in the city will increase. The climate emergency councilor, Eloi Badia, admitted this Wednesday that the Consistory is holding meetings with the different departments to manage the use of public roads as of next Friday.
The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, announced this Wednesday that the city council will strengthen surveillance in Ciutat Vella, Paseo del Born, Barceloneta and in the beach area to avoid crowds and bottles during the weekends. Leisure and life “have to be recovered in a responsible way”, said Colau, who has been “concerned” about “recovering coexistence and guaranteeing the rest of the residents in Ciutat Vella, Paseo del Born, Barceloneta and the area of beaches ”, where“ there are crowds and bottles ”that“ do not have to be produced ”because it is“ where the danger of contagion resides ”.
To avoid crowds, the mayor has appealed to the “responsibility of citizens”, has announced that the city council “will reinforce the devices to avoid them” and has stated that it has asked for “more presence of Mossos d’Esquadra” which ensures they have confirmed.
“Between all of us we have to take joint responsibility as citizens” of the situation until “the vaccination is completed”, added Ada Colau.
Regarding the closure of nightlife, the mayor has stated that “the measures dictated by the health authorities have to be followed” because the pandemic data “are worrying”, so “we cannot settle into a normal situation”, to at the same time that he has asked for “immediate aid measures for a sector as economically punished as that of nightlife.”