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Battered but standing: Basque flag. Photo credit: Joanes Andueza
Vitoria-Gasteiz

Basque Country court drops health pass requirement

The highest court in the Spanish state of the Basque Country has put an end to the introduction of the Corona pass. The local authorities want to introduce the pass for restaurants and cafes, among other things, but according to the court, the health pass is not necessary now that the Basque Country has a vaccination rate of about 90 percent.

Published: November 23, 2021, 9:26 am

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    The court also found that the pass infringed too much on privacy. Seven Spanish federal states are currently investigating the introduction of the QR code as a requirement to take part in nightlife activities. The news was not reported by any mainstream outlet.

    It is not the first time that the judge in the Basque Country has put an end to Corona plans from the local authorities, according to Dutch reporter Rop Zoutberg.

    The QR code as a means to enjoy nightlife already exists in the Balearic Islands, in Catalonia and Galicia, but remarkably, the Supreme judicial body in the Basque Country rejected the introduction of a health pass. The regional government wanted to introduce the pass for cafes, restaurants and discotheques.

    Spain is no longer subject to a state of alarm, and therefore regional authorities do not have a legal framework to introduce restrictions that affect fundamental rights, such as limiting or restricting freedom of movement. As a result, all measures – such as demanding a Covid pass to enter certain venues – must be approved by the courts.

    Spain’s lower courts have reached different rulings on Covid restrictions. In Catalonia, for example, the Covid pass was approved, but in Aragón and Andalusia it was ruled out. The region can then appeal to the Supreme Court if it does not agree with the ruling. In Galicia, pilgrims on their way to Santiago have to deal with a mandatory Corona pass, explained Zoutberg, the Dutch NOS correspondent in Spain and Portugal.

     

    Spain sets an example for the rest of the world

    “The Spanish constitutional state is emerging as a textbook example for the world,” said Dutch lawyer Ghislen Nysten. “There have already been several good rulings in several regions, including against the illegally declared lockdowns,” he added.

    Nysten noted that it was a “shame” that the Dutch constitutional state was “sinking deeper and deeper”. Covid cases in the Netherlands continue to rise despite strict measures and high vaccination rates. But instead of admitting failure, the government blamed citizens and are calling for harsher restrictions.

    Health experts told Spanish daily El País that the introduction and widened use of a Covid pass could perhaps encourage the unvaccinated to get the jab, but they did not believe that it would reduce contagion in any way.

    “It’s a measure from governments to make it look like they’re doing something,” Salvador Peiró, an epidemiologist from Valencia’s Foundation to Foster Health and Biomedical Investigation (Fisabio), told the newspaper. “It could give a false sense of security. It makes certain sense with respect to encouraging vaccination, but not when it comes to cutting chains of transmission. The vaccinated may curb transmission a bit, but they can still get infected and infect others.”

    A former director of emergencies at the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed with Peiró. Daniel López-Acuña said that flashing the QR code at entrances would not be enough to bring down cases.

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