‘In extremis’. The Government of Iñigo Urkullu has finally saved its package of restrictions to contain as much as possible the great wave of COVID-19 infections at New Year’s Eve hours. In this way, the bars will have to close tonight and until January 28 at one in the morning, the opening of the premises will be delayed until 8.00 a.m. on New Years (and also on the day of the Three Kings). It prohibits the consumption of standing or in a bar and the interior capacity remains at 60%. There may not be party favors in the usual format. This has been endorsed this Friday by the contentious-administrative chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country (TSJPV), which has rejected the precautionary measures requested in an appeal by the hospitality associations of Álava, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa to ‘save’ one of the days in which they make more cash.
The hospitality industry requests help from the Government of Urkullu while it goes to court to overturn the measures against COVID-19
The ruling understands that all the damages are exclusively economic for the sector and that this can be perfectly solved with subsequent compensation. “In this regard, the plaintiff refers to the fact that the establishments, especially leisure, have stockpiled provisions and formalized contracts, having to assume the expense without the corresponding income. As can be seen, this argument does not imply that the resulting damages of the execution turn out to be irreparable, as it has an economic content and can be compensated “, reasons the court.
The Superior questions the measures – “it is open to discussion” and not all the autonomies apply them – but admits that the context is worrying and that the Basque Government has “powers” to act on schedules and capacity. “Certainly, it is possible to disagree on the effectiveness of the measures. But the truth is that the appealed decision is motivated by an undeniable increase in COVID-19 cases that is beginning to be reflected in hospital and, above all, primary care”, it reads in the judicial resolution, made public at 1:00 p.m.
These restrictions were presented this Tuesday after weeks with the reactivated health emergency in which no measures had been put in place beyond the COVID passport. This happened before the Constitution Bridge and before Christmas Eve and Christmas, although the incidence was already very high. They are similar to the transmission containment plans put in place in neighboring communities such as Navarra or Cantabria. The complete guide to the regulations in force can be consulted here, which will remain active until January 28.
The contentious-administrative room is chaired by Magistrate Luis Garrido, who in other phases of the pandemic had knocked down proposals from the Urkullu Executive. In fact, at the beginning of 2021 he gave the reason precisely to the hospitality sector and decreed the reopening of bars and restaurants, which were closed in the municipalities with the highest contagion rates. At other times, this same court has also questioned the ability of the regional government to limit capacity in football or basketball and has denounced that restrictions have been approved that, in its opinion, limited fundamental rights. Precisely, the resolution of this Friday mentions the precedent of the hotel industry in February to indicate that “the situation is clearly different” since “at that time the closure of the activity was total and it was clear that there were establishments in a situation of closure”.
The hoteliers had alleged that “the measures are focusing on the hotel industry and it is not the solution to the health situation.” Also that at the end of the year people go out “yes or yes” and that if there are no open stores, there will be crowds on the street or in private homes. Finally, they understood that there was a clear economic damage to having reduced the hours for New Year’s Eve very few days before, when the orders for supplies were already made. It so happens that these associations met with the Executive to ask for more public aid while they went to court to overturn the sanitary measures.
It is completely exceptional that this resolution was known today and is only explained by the urgency it required. According to judicial sources, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are completely unskilled in the courts even if they are working days. In fact, the Basque Superior has only opened the doors to this question.