How effective was it proving to be? | R.L.

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Of the regions of Spain, Catalonia has shown itself to be an enthusiastically rigorous applier of Covid measures. Ready to close nightlife at the drop of a rise in incidence hat, the onset of the current sixth wave of the virus (or perhaps the fifth, as one does tend to lose track) prompted the Catalans into adopting a sort of curfew.

The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, was all in favour of other regions following suit. Then there were regional borders. Might a spot of inter-regional mobility restriction not come in handy in containing the latest spread?

Last week, Catalonia decided to maintain its latest closure of nightlife. As clubs pose a high risk of transmission, then they should be closed for at least another week. After which, presumably, there will be less risk, unless the Catalan government thinks otherwise and opts for another week of closure.

Meanwhile, the same government had come to the decision to abandon the Covid passport. How effective was it proving to be? This was a question being asked and answered in some other regions. The passport was no longer required in several.

Let’s go back to the origins of the passport in Mallorca and the Balearics. Ok, the real origins were those of the Greek prime minister, as he was the first to push for an EU digital certificate for vaccination or PCR test or having had Covid options. But as we know, this eventually morphed into a tool to be used locally and so not solely for international travel.

In the Balearics, therefore, the government spied an opportunity to allow clubs to open. Unlike Catalonia, which had been pulling down the shutters, lifting them and then pulling them down again, the shutters of the Balearics had been clamped shut since March 2020. The nightlife sector, desperate for anything to be able to open, agreed that the Covid passport could be a solution. And so it was, well before the government got round to eyeing up bars and restaurants as well.

If the passport, in the Balearics at any rate, has been deemed so important for nightlife, why will the Catalan government, in all likelihood, decide that it isn’t in a few days’ time? This assumes that there isn’t a separate treatment which requires the passport for clubs, a measure that couldn’t be ruled out. But why is it not now deemed important for clubs in certain regions of the country? And not just for clubs, for anything.

I have no problem with the passport. I don’t get into a lather about it and start screaming dictatorship and Nazism like those regurgitating a constant narrative of self-righteousness in acts of self-reinforcement to justify to themselves their absence from an overwhelming majority general will.

But I do wonder why we’re still bothering with it. I do understand that people inside bars and restaurants might feel safer, knowing that everyone is in the same passport boat. Yet can the passport really be said to have controlled infections? This is hard to believe, given the incidence rates, which are at last coming down.

Perhaps the government in the Balearics will insist that it has been right. The passport finally led to a reduction in incidence, and if we keep it in place for another month - which we are doing - then just wait for the incidence to tumble further. Are you convinced?

If it’s really felt to be necessary, then fine, but - and nothing to do with the nonsense about being controlled and having rights violated - there is the fact that it is just another Covid pain in the arse. Simple enough to present, of course, but pain nevertheless. Go back again to when the passport was introduced for nightlife. It was perceived as the solution to enable business activity. Yes, this may have included a degree of cajolement to be vaccinated, but the activity was the prime reason. When bars and restaurants entered the equation, the passport was a means of avoiding other measures. Sensible, but at the same time the vaccination “incentive” was given far greater prominence.

Fernando Simón, the Spanish government’s health emergencies spokesperson, from whom we now hear very little, agreed that there would be this incentive. However, he also expressed his doubts about the necessity for the passport because of the vaccination uptake. And this was before Omicron was rampant and fundamentally altered the situation.


If the Balearic government seriously believes that 100% vaccination can be achieved, then it is mistaken, unless way more coercive tactics were to be adopted, and one doubts they ever would be. Is a persistence with the passport therefore not potentially counterproductive, as objectors dig their heels in further and parrot yet more their narrative?

The sense for the passport is losing strength, as regions decide to drop it. A reason to keep it would be as a symbol of defiance against a minority incapable of accepting the general will of the overwhelming majority. But faced with the obsessiveness of objection, standstill is then reached.