October 24, 2020

“We think this will be longer than 15 days”

No one would say that it is the last day until you start asking. From a distance, it looks like any other Thursday night in autumn: groups of young people and middle-aged people drink and laugh and chat at tables scattered around the Plaza del Sol, in the Gràcia neighborhood. Up close, however, all the answers admit that the night has the uncertain air of goodbyes.

The Generalitat maintains the closure of bars and restaurants this midnight while waiting for the Justice to endorse the rest of the restrictions

The Generalitat maintains the closure of bars and restaurants at midnight on Thursday, waiting for the Justice to endorse the rest of the restrictions

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Hundreds -probably thousands- of Barcelonans have come out this Thursday to have the last beer in the bar, to their favorite restaurant or to their trusted cocktail bar. The new restrictions decreed by the Govern, which came into force this morning, have given the night an air of farewell, see you later, without too many guarantees of when the reunion will be. After the spring lockdown, people prefer to be cautious about when they will be able to return to the bar.

“I have the feeling that this will be much longer than 15 days,” reflected Amparo Garrido, sitting with a group of four friends in the Marcelino bar in Plaza del Sol. “At least this time it will not happen to us like in March and we have made the last meeting ”.

There were many full premises in the Gràcia neighborhood, an image that contrasted with that presented by various establishments in the center. At 10 pm, those tourist-focused venues had no one who wanted to say goodbye to them. On the other hand, other downtown bars run by longtime customers or foreigners living in the city were at full capacity.

“Today is crazy, we are working hard,” the waitress at the Oviso bar, located in Plaza George Orwell and with a mostly foreign clientele, assured in a Spanish park. The manager, meanwhile, euphorically invited all the customers to shots as if the world were ending tomorrow. “Tomorrow this will no longer be open, take advantage!” He harangued the parishioners.

Confusion reigned in many places to the point that some hoteliers were not clear when they should lower the blind. During the afternoon of Thursday, some media mistakenly announced that the closing of bars and restaurants would be delayed at least until Friday and early in the evening there were still hoteliers who were not clear when the measures would come into force. The Generalitat maintained the closure in the hotel industry this midnight waiting for the Justice to endorse the rest of the restrictions.

“We’re going to wait until tomorrow to see what happens,” the manager of the Neapolitan pizzeria Sports Bar, in the Gothic Quarter, replied brusquely. “Right now I can’t tell you much … We don’t know if we will do take away service or how we will organize ourselves, really.”

A few meters away, Joan and Tizia were eating a plate of pasta and a pizza while the local screens were spitting Calcio matches with the stands empty. “We like to come here, it’s cheap and good and it reminds me of Italy,” she explained. “We have come to say goodbye until next time … This is sad, sad, sad.”

Not everyone had gone out in a group. Although the best place to be alone in a bar – the bar – is banned in many places, in some establishments there were still those characters who are going to drink without intention of relating to anyone. The Tower bar, in Plaça de la Llana, was one of them. Nobody wanted to answer any questions.

Àngel and Xavi Juez, father and son, run the mythical bar l’Ascensor, also in the Gòtic, with the experience of those who have seen them in all colors. They regretted the lack of aid for their sector and recalled that they, unlike restaurants, will not even be able to put take out glasses when they lower the blind.

His bar, however, had two nights full of regulars who wanted to say goodbye to their favorite bar. “In the end, a bar is like life itself,” pointed out Àngel, who has been running this small place for more than 40 years where everyone greets each other upon entering. “Things can go wrong but they end up being fixed.”


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