Spanish town enjoys first glimpse of normality with clinical test

Sitges, Spain, May 20 (EFE).- A taste of normality came to the town of Sitges in northeastern Spain on Thursday night as hundreds of volunteers enjoyed a non-socially distanced outing for the first time in over a year as part of a clinical trial.

Municipal authorities in the coastal tourist hotspot and the Catalan regional government organized the pioneering event to test ways to safely revitalize the nightlife sector amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some 400 volunteers were selected out of 500 applicants to take part in the trial, in which participants had to take a Covid-19 test several hours before the event kicked off.

“Because I work in the nightlife sector, I’m excited and I hope it goes well, after this, we’ll see what happens,” bar employee Kike Delgado told Efe after getting his test.

None of the 405 participants tested positive for coronavirus.

“It feels like a relief, like everything is going back to normal after so many months and I’m looking forward to enjoying myself and returning to normality,” Aitana Llimos told Efe at the testing station.

Carrer del Pecat (“Street of Sin”), the heart of the town’s entertainment district, was sectioned off as five bars opened their doors to the lucky revelers, who could go from one establishment to another without having to worry about social distancing.

The use of facemasks was obligatory, however.

As the gates to the street were opened, the happy, excited volunteers danced and embraced without hesitation, an unusual sight after more than a year of pandemic.

“This is just amazing, after more than 15 months in which we couldn’t go out past 11:00 pm or have a normal life, have drinks with friends, converse, have fun and dance? To me this is just amazing,” Joaquin Millan said while enjoying a beer in front of one of the clubs.

For Andrei Sircheli, who works at one of the bars that opened their doors, “this is a small step at a global level, but it’s a great step for businesses in this town, so it brings hope, happiness and especially a feeling of freedom.”

Those who attended the event will have to take another Covid-19 test in six days and be available for follow-ups for 2 weeks as part of the clinical trial.

Catalonia was the scene of another test in March, when some 5,000 people were allowed to attend a concert in Barcelona by the band Love of Lesbian.

Data from the Germans Trias University Hospital, which helped organize the concert, showed that the trial was a success, as four of the six attendees who tested positive two weeks later were determined to have been infected somewhere else.

Spain’s famous nightlife scene has been devastated by the pandemic, which has forced the closure of some 5,000 clubs and cost the industry 2.85 billion euros ($3.48 billion), according to the National Federation of Leisure and Entertainment Business-owners. EFE


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