CORONAVIRUS

Hundreds of revelers seen without face masks at large party in bar-restaurant in Spain

In a video seen by EL PAÍS, groups of young people hug one another and sing without respecting obligatory coronavirus safety measures

Video of patrons disrespecting coronavirus safety measures at Badiu, a bar-restaurant in Catalonia.
Anton Rosa

Hundreds of young people attended a large party on Saturday night at a bar-restaurant in Queixans, a town in the Spanish province of Girona. Most of the 300-strong crowd at the establishment Badiu were not wearing face masks or respecting social-distancing measures, despite the fact that Spain has seen a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.

Every night, we throw people out for not behaving
Mauro Maqueada, owner of Badiu

The young patrons in the outdoor area of Badiu also did not respect the ban on smoking in public areas where a two-meter distance cannot be respected. In a video of the night, to which EL PAÍS has had access, young people can be seen singing with their arms around one another without wearing face masks on the main dance floor of the restaurant just before it closed at 1am. Badiu has a license to operate as a restaurant and music bar; it serves food and also hosts parties and live performances.

Several witnesses said that, despite the efforts of waiters, most of the patrons gathered at the bar and ordered drinks without face masks on or maintaining a safe distance from staff.

“We make all patrons enter with a face mask and do everything possible to adapt to the measures that are being applied. Every night, we throw people out for not behaving,” said Mauro Maqueada, the owner of Badiu, which is a nightlife hotspot in Cerdanaya, a comarca – a traditional administrative district in some parts of Spain – in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region.

Maqueada called for the public to show “individual responsibility” and complained about how difficult it was for establishments to meet the coronavirus restrictions. “It’s practically impossible to have young people between 18 and 25, sitting down, quiet and not dancing. At least, here there is a minimum level of control. If I don’t open, the groups split up in different directions,” she said.

Police sources said this is not the first time that there have been problems at Badiu since the summer season began. The same sources confirmed that two patrol cars went to the restaurant on Saturday night, and left after confirming it was closed.

Regulations

Smoking in public areas and outdoor cafes where a safe two-meter distance cannot be respected has been banned since last Thursday. The controversial order from the Catalan health department also states that a distance of 1.5 meters must be maintained at the bar and that nighttime venues, such as music bars, must close at 1am. In the case of nightclubs and dance halls, these establishments must suspend all activity until the coronavirus health crisis improves.

The industry association Fecasarm appealed the new rules at the Catalan High Court, arguing that they would lead to a 20% drop in patrons, according to their calculations. On Monday, however, the court ruled in favor of the Catalan regional government.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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