A French, a German and a Belgian drink their beers on a terrace near the Born square in Barcelona at midnight. It is not a joke or a sequel to ‘L’Auberge espagnole’. They are the minutes before the curfew returns in Catalonia. “At home we will take the last one, but it is not the same”, confesses Jean-Marc with his group of coexistence. I desolé, mes amis!
In just over two months, the joy at the end of the state of alarm has turned to resignation at the return to nighttime confinement. The pandemic has rampaged again in Catalonia, which is the fifth European region with the most infections, which has led the Government to decree, for at least a week, a curfew from 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. six million Catalans, 80% of the population.
The vast majority of foreigners in the Born – most of them tourists, some residents in the Catalan capital – have not even found out about the measure after half an hour before it comes into force. At this time, more than 300 people are still drinking, singing and smoking on this promenade in the center of Barcelona. Even a group dances equipped with ‘bluetooth’ headphones. There is a lot of hug and the mask is conspicuous by its absence.
Defying the cliché, Cormac and Shane, Irish, share a bottle of white wine next to Santa Mar. “The weekend they should let us be free,” they lament, while criticizing such a harsh measure. “In our country even when the hardest confinement the police told you to go home if they saw you walking, but they did not fine you,” they say, while remembering the “‘indoor'” parties they have attended in the last month . “There if there were viruses, not on the street.”
The curfew has frustrated the plans of Antoine and Giovanni (or so they say they are called), two French people visiting Barcelona for four days. “We won’t be able to party or fuck,” says the first beer in hand. “We are screwed,” adds the second, while a third compatriot arrives to provide them with more cans. They toast to Barcelona, yes.
It is difficult to find them because tourism has almost expelled the people of Barcelona from the area, but there are also locals in the narrow streets of El Born. Alberto leads a group of five young people who work in a pharmaceutical company. He does not hide his discontent or his cubata. “I get up at 7 in the morning to work and then the most I do is go for a drink at night. Now we all pay for everyone who has opened everything so quickly and the festivals, that was a shit“, he proclaims.
In a better mood are Manuela and two friends who have come to visit her from Uruguay. They wait their turn at the Pla de Palau ice cream parlor. “The curfew is not so serious, it does not limit you so much at one o’clock. Better to go home soon than to have to return to total confinement,” values this Barceloneta neighbor, happy because she trusts that the night confinement will end the sleepless nights from noisy tourists.
There is a quarter of an hour to go until the cut-off time and the Born is still overflowing when three kids arrive hired by the Barcelona City Council as civic agents against noise. The task is impossible and they don’t even bother trying. More than 300 people continue with the party. “Now you can tell a group to lower the tone a bit that they answer you ‘but what are you saying to me, look at these'”, says one of the young people who wears a phosphorescent vest, who prefers not to say his name.
It is not until agents of the Mossos d’Esquadra and the Guàrdia Urbana intervene that El Born is evicted. There are just a few minutes to 1:00 in the morning. A line of agents is advancing along the promenade and the mass of young people (and not so young), with their corresponding glasses, cans and bags with bottles of alcohol, goes towards the great Plaza del Born. There is no resistance, some drunken chants and many ‘selfies’ to immortalize the moment (and remember in the morning).
With great patience, after the deadline, the mossos ask the small groups that resist in front of the Estación de Francia to go home or to the hotel. The operation is repeated on the city’s beaches. “Come on, come on, it’s more than one o’clock“says a uniformed man while pointing to a nonexistent watch on his other wrist with one hand. The staff parade or look for a taxi, but not before waking up the homeless people who were trying to sleep on the Picasso promenade with music.