The feeling is the same as six months ago. The city is practically deserted, silence has taken over the streets. There is practically no traffic and the asphalt is mostly territory for the delivery men on their motorcycles. Last Friday night in Barcelona could have been a night of confinement in spring. On the first day with the closure of bars and restaurants in force – the most forceful measure of the new restrictions to face the covid-19 pandemic -, even in the neighborhoods with the most activity at night, human traffic had disappeared. Whether in the Eixample, Gràcia, the Gothic or Barceloneta, citizens had assumed a new seclusion.
“This is not going to last two weeks, it is going to last two months,” said Claire Massier. She and six friends, all of French origin, were photographed in the Plaza de la Barceloneta before heading to a birthday party in a flat on Calle del Mar. The apartment could be identified by the sound of music. “This is like in France with the state of emergency at night,” added Massier. The curfew in eight French cities has introduced restrictions similar to those in Catalonia, but with the main difference that in the neighboring country, between nine at night and six in the morning it is not allowed to go out.
This is politicking between Barcelona and Madrid ”, says a tricycle driver
The silence of the city was broken from time to time by the shouts of suppressed joy that came from the odd building. On the promenade and on the beach, sporadic small groups stood out, all of them under six people — the limit established by the Generalitat — drinking and chatting. The police presence was constant. Three boys who were crossing Pepe Rubianes Street were reprimanded by a Mossos d’Esquadra patrol, who urged them to put on their masks.
Lola Cooper had a pizza for dinner sitting at the stop of the N28, the bus that would take her home. While devouring the food, the young woman assured that the closing of the bars was not something that would take away her sleep because she had already gotten used in recent months to staying with friends at their homes.
In Barceloneta, throughout the Ciutat Vella district, it rains over wet. The disappearance of tourism has sunk the local economy, and the current cessation of catering activity is the final blow, says Ali Hadin. This Pakistani, with twenty years of residence in Spain, drives a tricycle for tourists. This autumn he is entering 10% of what he invoiced for the same dates in 2019. Hadin is self-employed, he owes 3,000 euros to Social Security, a debt, he explains that prevents him from accessing official aid to survive.
The tricycle driver talks incessantly, desperate, while a couple of Poles sit in the vehicle waiting. He has managed to get them to pay him 10 euros for the trip back to his hotel, twice what they wanted to give him. “Barcelona is dying”, declared Chris, the client, who expressed their anger because they had landed in the city without knowing that the restaurants and nightlife would be closed.
The couple is interested when they are informed that the cultural shows are open until eleven at night, although they admit that they do not have the mood to go to the cinema or a concert. Hadin and the Poles shared doubts about the severity of the pandemic. “This is politicking between Barcelona and Madrid,” Hadin sentenced. “Do you know someone who has fallen ill with the coronavirus? Not me, ”Chris said as his girlfriend, also skeptical, nodded.