While several autonomous communities have returned to the curfew, the Basque Country this weekend launches a new framework that “decrees the impossibility” of having groups of “non-cohabitants” in parks, beaches or other public spaces from 00.00 to 06.00 hours but that It does not prevent going out, walking or even consuming in the hospitality industry, open until 02.00 hours. The lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, who raised this measure on Wednesday before the explosion of COVID-19 cases that has been going on for weeks and seven days after choosing not to make movements, seeks in its application the complicity of the municipalities and insists on that it must be taken as a “prohibition”, although such a word does not appear in the decree signed by him. Precisely for this reason, lawyers consulted by this newspaper doubt its legal effectiveness. In addition, mayors are without tools to order what the norm marks and both the regional and local Police face the summer with depleted staff.
Part of the Bilbao hospitality industry does not have the mandatory customer registration required by trackers
This Friday, at a ceremony in Vitoria, Urkullu defended his measures. It is about “trying to avoid crowds without complying with preventive measures,” he says. Above all, it is intended to control massive youth encounters. The positives of people aged 10 to 30 years have never been higher in the Basque Country throughout the pandemic. After weeks of debating whether or not a new wave was happening, it has already been confirmed in all its harshness that the sixth cycle of rise of COVID-19 has arrived after those of March, August and November of last year and the which in 2021 followed Christmas and Easter. With the over 40s heavily covered with the vaccine, hospitalizations have remained at lower levels, but have already started to grow. Only from Thursday to Friday the percentage is 25%. And to this is added that more than 45% of those who take a test have symptoms. Added to those who develop the disease later, there are hundreds of young people spending the summer in their cases with a cough, fever and even having lost one or two senses, smell and taste. And all this has coincided with the expansion of the delta variant of the Sars-Cov-2.
Javier Tajadura, professor of constitutional law at the University of the Basque Country (UPV / EHU) maintains that the new decree has “no effectiveness” from a legal point of view. He remarks that the term ‘prohibition’ does not appear anywhere in the text. “The Lehendakari has no powers to limit fundamental rights. The ‘prohibited’ knows that it is quickly annulled for being manifestly unconstitutional. Fortunately, the Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country takes the rule of law seriously. Without a state of alarm, there is no room for curfews or anything. That’s why they don’t even ask, ”Tajadura abounds. In Euskadi, unlike in Navarra or Valencia, the judges have overturned regional measures even within the state of alarm, considering them harmful to fundamental rights. In the pandemic, magistrate Luis Garrido, president of the contentious-administrative chamber, has taken center stage. This week, the crisis table of the health emergency, the body known as Labi, has not even considered the curfew as such and has designed this formula to avoid “crowds” of “not living together” between midnight and dawn , which was advanced by this newspaper.
“But this covert curfew for the bottle is not necessary. Every mayor has powers to regulate the use of public roads, with or without a pandemic, ”insists Tajadura. “We know the objective, to prohibit bottles. But these breaks don’t make much sense. From my point of view, perhaps it is more effective to appeal to the responsibility of the people. The vast majority of us behave responsibly. The objective of controlling the agglomerations is shared by the population. Now, a decree like this one is generating incredible confusion ”, underlines Arantxa Elizondo, professor of Political Science and Administration also at the UPV / EHU.
Beyond the legal framework, the role of municipalities in controlling nighttime restrictions has also been the subject of controversy. The mayor of Vitoria, Gorka Urtaran, who is also president of the association of municipalities Eudel, has said that you cannot put “a policeman behind each person” and that, in the case of his city, “you cannot fence 10 million square meters ”of green areas. Other councilors have spoken along the same lines, such as the mayor of Bakio, Amets Jauregizar, who remembers its kilometer-long beaches with dozens of entries.
Urkullu has replied that he has not asked for anyone to fence any area. It has only emphasized that the municipalities have to “order” timetables and prohibited zones. “Each mayor will know which is the method: one side, public address in municipal vehicles or the most productive, profitable or effective tool,” he said. In addition, it has made it clear that the council members of the three capitals are represented in the Labi and that one of them, Urtaran, also acts as a representative of 251 localities. “Co-governance”, he repeated. Urkullu did not, but the Vice-Lehendakari and Security Councilor, Josu Erkoreka, did mention the perimeters. “If there are not enough police, it would be necessary to cordon off, surround and determine in some way the prohibition of access and use of them at that time of night,” he said.
Local police officers without a night shift and an Ertzaintza low
Are there or are there not police officers to deal with possible incidents at night and, above all, to distinguish between those who are in the exercise of their freedoms and those who violate the rules? Roberto Seijo, general secretary of Erne, the main union of the Ertzaintza, is blunt: “No”. It notes that some local bodies even “do not have a night shift.” And, on the autonomous police, he provides two examples. A police station on the Bizkaia coast has three patrols for various municipalities and a police officer on duty at the station. And another from a large capital has a car for a neighborhood of 50,000 inhabitants that he cannot withdraw to go to remote areas of the bottle. Cases are from Thursday night to Friday. The Ertzaintza has a theoretical staff of 8,000 troops but, according to Seijo’s data, there are currently 7,190. Of these, “a minimum of 25% are on vacation” and there is an absenteeism that is around “10-11%”. “As a policeman and as a citizen, it seems like chaos in police management,” Seijo sentenced.
In a statement, Ertzaintza and local police have requested “citizen collaboration.” “The health authorities indicate that we are in a situation of high intensity of transmission of infections, especially among the younger population,” say these bodies, calling for special observance of the rules in this age group. They demand that festive events, group celebrations and gatherings of people be avoided and that distances and the use of masks be respected. Of course, “joint and coordinated police devices” are already being announced, also in “common places where there is knowledge of bottles.”
In our interactive specials, you can consult all the data on the evolution of the pandemic in Euskadi, Over the positive and deceased in each and every one of the residences in Álava, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa and the advance day to day of the vaccination campaign. We also have maps with the most prominent shoots.