Wednesday, January 19

The Basque Country will force the hotel business to close at one in the morning but will not approve special measures for New Year’s Eve

The Basque Country has agreed to close all non-essential activities, including bars and restaurants, at one in the morning. Finally, there will not be a shorter special schedule for New Year’s Eve or the Eve of the Three Kings (the opportunity to lower the blind on those days at 11.30 pm at the latest), although a delay in the morning opening could be approved next to discourage the party (at 8:00 am). Groups in the hospitality industry will also be limited to a maximum of ten people -and bar consumption will be banned again- and there will be a general capacity of 60% in the premises, although attendance at soccer and basketball fields has not been regulated because there will be a general agreement in Spain this Wednesday the interterritorial council, according to the sources consulted. In the hope that they are in effect on New Year’s Eve, these changes will take effect this Wednesday after their publication in the Official Gazette of the Basque Country (BOPV).

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These are the first measures that have been proposed outside the COVID passport since on December 2 the health emergency was reactivated for the third time in the pandemic and the crisis table, the body known as Labi, was reconstituted. In fact, this Tuesday was the Labi’s first decision-making meeting since September. Although now it is assured that in addition to the irruption of omicron, the high mobility of these dates and the large volume of social interactions are the triggering factors of the transmission levels, neither before the Constitution and Immaculate Conception Bridge nor on Christmas Eve use of one’s own competences to limit social activity, although the increase in cases has already accumulated thirteen weeks and although the healthcare pressure of this wave has always been higher than that of summer. Moreover, Urkullu came to demonstrate in an appearance in Pamplona between one date and another that he foresaw since the peak of this wave was approaching and that for that reason nothing more than the COVID certificate was being considered.

Although the record cumulative incidence (2,285 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days and 6,568 positives in 24 hours) is taken as a reference for the measurements, hospital occupancy is notably higher both in the ward and in the ICU than at Christmas 2020. There are 468 total admitted and 111 in ICU for 347 and 81, respectively, on December 28, 2020. It is a rise of 34% and 37%. In addition, at least now people who have entered for COVID-19 but no longer test positive are excluded from the calculation. And what were the measurements like then? At that time, larger curfews, perimeter closures, and capacity restrictions were in effect, to the point where it was impossible to go to football or basketball games as a public. Of course, some trips and schedules were made more flexible expressly for the Christmas holidays.

Made with Flourish

In reality, the Basque Country has experienced great debates in recent weeks regarding the possible solutions to this wave, without in many cases reaching any port. For example, it was proposed that parades and parades be “avoided” and, for the moment, and while waiting for the Three Wise Men, Vitoria, Donostia, Barakaldo and other municipalities have already celebrated their acts with Olentzero and Mari Domingi. Only Bilbao expressly canceled them. Of course, Santo Tomás was not celebrated and some San Silvestre are already declining. Urkullu himself urged Pedro Sánchez to hold a conference with all the regional presidents and brought to that meeting a decalogue of proposals that, a few hours after the end of the forum, he refused to apply, considering that they had to be implemented throughout Spain. It was also shielded by lack of powers and in that on previous occasions the Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country (TSJPV) has thrown back proposals adopted at the regional level, evidence after a pandemic with loud confrontations with the contentious court- administrative chair presided over by Judge Luis Garrido.

However, the next morning a space for dialogue was formally started with the president of Navarra, María Chivite, and other nearby autonomous communities to establish a common regulatory framework for the end of the year celebrations and the start of January. Not exactly a mimetic plan has been reached in all of them, but simultaneous actions have been carried out in the majority of communities in the north of the peninsula from Cantabria to Aragon. One of Urkullu’s arguments was that if Euskadi prohibited party favors but they did not do so in La Rioja, the result would be that there would be a call-effect to other places.

It so happens that the Basque Country has now rescued the powers that last week it seemed not to have and that it will also act without seeking prior authorization from the contentious-administrative court. It is something that has been possible as long as the restrictions do not collide with fundamental rights such as those of assembly or mobility. In fact, the plan presented is based on provisions contemplated by the Government itself in an anti-pandemic law approved ‘ad hoc’ for COVID-19 last summer.

However, the affected sectors have raised their voices again. The ‘lobby’ of the hotel industry has already protested in other phases of the pandemic -even with demonstrations- and now announces judicial appeals. “They lead the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector to ruin”, the hoteliers from Alava have claimed. The counselor-spokesperson of the Basque Government, Bingen Zupiria, has assured not to fear for the validity of the measures adopted and for another possible judicial setback. “We should not put the bandage on before the wound,” he said. In addition, he stressed that the restrictions have legal support and do not violate fundamental rights on this occasion, so they do not require prior control of the Justice. Of course, the contentious-administrative room has not only stopped measures of this type in this pandemic but has even reopened the hotel industry in the areas of greater community transmission, considering it a disproportionate measure.

Now, even before these measures were known, two Urkullu councilors, the socialist Javier Hurtado (head of the Tourism, Commerce and Consumption portfolio) and the nationalist Pedro Azpiazu (head of the Economy and Finance), have already announced that they They will meet immediately with representatives of the sector and the door is not closed to articulating new economic aid plans, although with caution. “Advancing now does not make much sense. You have to think about these questions and analyze them calmly and serenely before committing yourself quickly,” explained the counselor Azpiazu.

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