NEW YEAR’S EVE, the most dreaded part of the festivities for epidemiologists, health workers and political leaders the world over, went off largely without a hitch in Valencia.
Transformed by the nocturnal COVID curfew from Nochevieja (‘old night’, the Spanish term for New Year’s Eve) into Tardevieja (‘old afternoon’), warnings and restrictions seemed to work as common sense prevailed.
Large crowds of drunken revellers breaking social distancing without masks were conspicuously absent, as the vast majority of revellers kept to small groups and continued to observe the health and safety requirements.
However, 79 people were still fined in Valencia city for breaking the midnight to 06.00 hrs curfew, while the owners of 15 establishments were booked for non-compliance of the health regulations.
The fear of a mass outbreak on the last night of the year was so great that regional president Ximo Puig made a public speech on Wednesday (as reported by The Olive Press), ‘begging’ the public to abide by the restrictions given the terribly dramatic figures of new infections and deaths reported every day in the Valencian Community over the last weeks.
In fact, Puig went as far as stating that ‘Nochevieja and Tardevieja are banned’.
In the end, his fears were allayed as the terraces of bars and restaurants throughout the region welcomed similar numbers of customers as any other afternoon or evening so far since the end of lockdown.
With a maximum of six people per table, keeping the required social distance and without engaging in any risky behaviour, the vast majority of valencianos and valencianas enjoyed a much more relaxed end of year than was initially expected.
The ‘maximum deployment’ of all police forces – National, Local, Autonomous, and Guardia Civil – that were to ‘act with total severity’ announced the previous day by the regional president, to clamp down on any illegal gatherings and instances of law-breaking, no doubt had a dissuasive effect on anyone planning to disobey the restrictions.