By Jose Miguel Calatayud
While in several European countries it has become normal to show a COVID-19 health pass to enter and remain indoors in bars, restaurants, sports centres and cultural venues, in Spain the courts have been preventing the authorities from imposing such obligation.
A COVID-19 health pass normally consists of a full vaccination certificate, a negative antigen test less than between 24 and 72 hours old, or a certificate of having had and recovered from COVID-19.
In Spain, after the central government ended the state of emergency on 9 May, it's been up to regional authorities to impose the obligation of having a COVID-19 health pass to access bars and other entertainment places.
Several regional authorities passed such regulations, but only for the courts to annul them shortly afterwards.
On 29 July, the High Court of the Canary Islands accepted an appeal by two business associations against the requirement by the regional government to show the COVID-19 health pass, and later on 17 August the Court nullified the health pass requirement.
On 6 August, likewise the High Court of the Cantabria region had also annulled the regional government's imposition of the Covid-19 health pass in some towns after accepting an appeal by bar and restaurant business owners.
On that same same day, the Andalusian High Court rejected a similar imposition by the Andalusian government, on the grounds that it could violate people's rights to privacy and to not being discriminated against.
On 12 August, the Galician High Court nullified a similar requirement by the regional authorities in Galicia, that had been in place since 22 July (reportedly, this was the only occasion in which the health pass was required for at least some days).
From regional courts to the national supreme court
The Andalusian regional government appealed against the ruling that prevented it from imposing the health pass, and finally on 18 August the Spanish Supreme Court confirmed the regional court's decision and didn't allow the Andalusian authorities to impose the requirement of the COVID-19 health pass to enter nightlife venues in Andalucia.
This latest ruling means that there is virtually no chance of any such regulation to be accepted by any of the other courts anywhere in Spain.
In general, the courts have argued that the measure was discriminatory and could violate people's rights without offering enough benefits for public health.
Reportedly, by mid-August at least 21 EU countries required that people showed a COVID-19 health pass to access and remain indoors in bars and other venues.