‘These measures save lives’: Barcelona police patrol streets enforcing COVID-19 curfew

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — At 10:00 p.m. each night, Barcelona’s professional crime fighters become wet blankets in uniforms.

Police officers fan out across the coastal city in northeastern Spain to break up clandestine parties and to clear the streets of young adults drinking alcohol, enforcing a nationwide curfew the Spanish government ordered to slow down the spread of coronavirus.

Associated Press journalists accompanied officers from the Mossos d’Esquadra, the police force for Spain’s Catalonia region, on curfew patrol. Compared to the killings, bar brawls or domestic violence calls the officers are used to handling, busting people for being out after hours is easy work.

Yet for European nations battling the resurgence of COVID-19, the assignment is critical.

“These measures save lives,” Catalonia police chief Eduard Sallent said. “We are enforcing a measure that is meant to prevent deaths and the collapse of our healthcare system.”

Without tourists around to clog Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella, the old town area known for its buzzy late-night scene, patrol cars weaved through labyrinth-like alleys in search of scofflaws with bottles of booze in hand. Officers looked past homeless people and the occasional dog walkers.

They focused on spotting youths who had sneaked out to share a bottle, since the city’s bars and nightclubs closed completely due to the virus, while also watching for anyone who might use the unusually empty streets as an opportunity to loot stores.

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