Andalusia wants to introduce Covid pass for nightlife venues

Southern Spanish region is now awaiting court authorization to start requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter nightclubs and drinks bars

People wait in line outside a nightclub in Seville.
People wait in line outside a nightclub in Seville.Eduardo Briones (Europa Press)
Seville -

The regional government of Andalusia, in southern Spain, wants to require customers to provide proof of being coronavirus-free in order to access the inside of nightlife venues such as drinks bars and clubs. The decision was made on Monday and was due to go into effect on August 5, but on Tuesday the regional government backtracked and agreed to first ask the regional High Court for authorization, due to legal concerns over privacy issues and complaints from the nightlife business industry.

If the court greenlights the initiative, anyone wishing to enter a nightlife venue will have to present the EU Digital Covid Certificate or a negative coronavirus test result (either antigen or PCR). The decision does not affect bars and restaurants open during the day, despite the fact that regional premier Juan Manuel Moreno, of the Popular Party (PP), last week spoke in favor of it. Instead, only nightlife venues would be required to conduct door checks.

The pandemic has caused 1,027 nightlife venues to close down out of a total of 2,465, according to the industry association Andalucía de Noche

Andalusia joins other regions of Spain that have either introduced the measure, or are trying to. In the Canary Islands, the regional High Court has provisionally suspended a similar move requiring proof of being infection-free to access leisure activities, citing privacy concerns. In the northwestern region of Galicia, however, this proof is already required at bars and restaurants. Last week, Health Minister Carolina Darias noted that the EU health pass, issued by individual countries, was made for travel across European borders, not for other uses.

The Andalusian government’s decision was made after a meeting of the expert committee that is advising the regional government. “The incidence among the younger population remains very high due to the impact of the delta variant, and among 20-29-year-olds it is triple the Andalusian average,” said the regional health chief, Jesús Aguirre. Andalusia has begun calling the over-16s for vaccine appointments. A total of 58.1% of the 20-29 age group have received their first dose, a figure that falls to 10.8% for the 12-19 population.

Industry leaders said that this new restriction must be offset with more capacity and longer opening hours. “If we don’t get compensated, we will appeal,” said Juan Ramblas, president of Andalucía de Noche, a regional federation of nightlife businesses. Ramblas said the industry was already willing to require customers to show a Covid certificate or a negative antigen test, but only as long as they are allowed to go back to their usual opening hours – currently, venues must close at 2am – and increase their indoor capacity.

“We are surprised, especially because for at least three weeks nobody will be able to come, since they won’t have had their second [vaccine] dose yet, which means our establishments will empty out again,” he said. Ramblas underscored that his sector was hard hit by the pandemic as venues remained completely closed until Spain lifted an emergency state on May 9. According to this industry group, the pandemic has caused 1,027 nightlife venues to close down out of a total of 2,465. Average losses per venue range between €250,000 and €400,000.

English version by Susana Urra.

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