Non-Resident Curfew

Januray 2010

In the latest updates to the Civismo laws, Barcelona Mayor, Jordi Hereu, announced last Friday that the city will enforce curfew on all non-residents. The decision came after a recent special session of the Generalitat where Jose Montilla and other lawmakers brainstormed ideas to rid the streets of Barcelona of late-night wanderers without damaging the city’s touristic appeal.

The recent influx of tourists on the streets of Barcelona over the past 7 years has resulted in an increase of theft, vandalism and over all cantankerousness of city residents. Police reports show that the majority of theft takes place on the Ramblas between the hours of 12am and 4am with 80% of victims being non-residents under the influence of alcohol. In addition, cleaning up broken shop windows, amateur graffiti, urine filled corners and beer can carpeted streets amount to more than 30% of the city’s maintenance budget. “After looking at the numbers, it was clear” stated Hereau, “it costs more to let them, I’m mean visitors to Barcelona, free in the streets than it would to implement this curfew.”

The city has plans to place special law enforcement officers around the city to monitor tourist activity. Any person found drinking Sangria from a goblet, “bar-hopping,” singing football hymnals, being attacked by prostitutes, skateboarding or bartering with beer vendors on the streets after 11pm will have to show proof of residency. In addition, shuttle buses from Camp Nou to respective hotels will be provided on home game nights.

Critics of the ordinance claim that it is a breach of civil liberties. One baffeled English weekender  asked “Oi, those coonts. You must be taking the piss, right?”  Inded they are not as Montilla argues “We’re just protecting them from becoming victims of foreign streets. We will no longer turn a blind eye to the harm they are doing to themselves as well as to the citizens of Catalunya’s capital” Not wanting the cultural gap to affect tourists’ fun and Barcelona economics, the new law has taken maintaining a “harmonious relationship between Barcelona citizens and tourists” into consideration. The curfew’s hours were established to allow maximum advantage to be taken of Barcelona. Visitors will still be able to go shopping, eat ice-cream, take photos, watch street performances, get in on 2 for 1 drink deals before 10:00 and wake up early enough to take advantage of the first city bus tour at 8 am. “Except now they won’t interrupt the flow of the rest of us”, adds Montilla.

It appears that heading off the proverbial cramping of the Catalan style could possibly result in an increase of bar revenue. One supporter of the policy said “Now I can go out more often without having to maneuver through crowded streets, wait in lines and give directions ” Another person asks “Does this mean the price of mojitos will drop?” It’s not just Catalan patrons who appear to be optimistic about the new policy. Marc Puig, owner and operator of a popular centrally located bar expressed relief at not having to strain to hear strange drink orders in English or worse, broken Spanish. The only industry that could possibly take a hit are late night kebab restaurants and rose vendors. When asked to comment, one man only responded by shoving a blinking rubber ring in our faces and saying “one euro.”

Consequences for breaking curfew are still under debate between lawmakers. Possible options at this point include warnings, fines, law enforcement chaperones to hotels or rented apartments, deportation and banishment. Heareu concluded “We know some changes will have to be made with time, but we’re committed to giving the streets back to tax paying citizens.”


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