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Catalonia to implement COVID passport for restaurants and gyms

Spanish government remains opposed to applying measure nationally

Alyssa McMurtry   | 25.11.2021
Catalonia to implement COVID passport for restaurants and gyms

OVIEDO, Spain 

The High Court of Catalonia approved the Catalan government’s request to implement COVID passports in gyms, bars, restaurants, and nursing homes on Thursday.

The measure, which aims to curb the surge in COVID-19 cases, will go into effect on Friday. The Spanish region already required people to present negative tests or vaccine certificates to enter nightclubs, music festivals, or large events like weddings.

Catalonia, like much of Spain, has seen new infections steadily increasing over the last months.

On Thursday, Catalonia surpassed the 5% positivity rate for coronavirus tests and the 2,000 new-case threshold for the first time this autumn.

Across Spain, the 14-day infection rate has more than doubled to 148 infections per 100,000 in less than two weeks.

However, the situation remains relatively stable compared to other European countries like Austria, Slovenia, Belgium, or the Czech Republic, where the infection rate is over 1,000.

Although Catalonia has more cases than the national average, the Basque Country and Navarra have the highest infection rates in the country.

Last week, the Basque government also tried to implement a COVID passport for leisure activities, but the Basque High Court rejected the request, saying the measure wasn’t justifiable.

The Basque government is now taking the issue to Spain’s Supreme Court, while other governments like Navarra and Aragon are waiting for local judicial approval for similar measures.

Spain’s national government has so far ruled out implementing COVID passports nationally. Its strategy to combat the pandemic remains to continue pushing vaccination without coercion and to keep wearing masks indoors.

Nearly 90% of adults have opted for a vaccine in Spain, so the country’s chief epidemiologist sees little use for COVID passports.

“If everyone is already vaccinated, why should you have to prove it every time you go into a bar?” Fernando Simon said last week.

Currently, more cases are being seen in children younger than 11 years old than in any other group in Spain. The situation coincides with Thursday’s approval of COVID-19 vaccines for children by the EU Medicines Agency.

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