Green light for the covid passport in the Valencian Community. The High Court of Justice has authorized its establishment to provide access to hospitality, restaurants and leisure facilities with a capacity of more than 50 people, music festivals, events and celebrations with more than 500 attendees, as well as visiting patients and interns in hospitals and residences, among other activities.
In this way, the judges endorse the decision of the Ministry of Health that contains these provisions and that will enter into force when it is published in the Official Journal of the Generalitat Valenciana, something that is expected to happen around 3 December, coinciding with the puente of the Constitution. The requirement for a European certificate on entry to these establishments will remain in force for 30 days and will therefore also apply to Christmas and New Year holidays.
The Fourth Division of the Chamber for Contentious and Administrative Cases considers these measures to be «balanced», since they result in «more benefits for the general interest -containment of the pandemic- than damage other conflicting goods or values», while complying with the «constitutional judgment of proportionality».
The order reviews the recent jurisprudence of the Supreme Court on the requirement of a vaccination certificate, presentation of negative diagnostic test -PCR or antigen test- or proof of having passed the disease in the previous six months in order to gain access to certain establishments.
The judges argue that these measures are ideal to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus inside those places where, due to its idiosyncrasy, it is not possible to make a continuous use of the mask.
The resolution refers to the scientific data collected in the epidemiological report provided by the Government of Catalonia, which confirm that the risk of infection is lower among vaccinated than in non-vaccinated and that, in the event of infection, the transmission of covid-19 is much lower among vaccinated people.
The measures, therefore, are necessary, since no other «are known to achieve the purpose with equal efficiency», and are «indispensable if the objective of reducing or at least minimizing the increase in the transmission of the virus is to be achieved», states the Chamber.
In addition, the requirement of the covid certificate seeks to prevent «reaching the scene of new restrictions of fundamental rights much more intense than here» and the announcement of its implementation has already encouraged vaccination. In fact, more than two thousand people have come this weekend to the points installed in commercial areas of the three provinces on the occasion of the ‘Black Friday’.
The Court goes on to say that the measure is also proportionate because «it will scarcely affect economic activity» and even «it can facilitate it», so that it obtains «a good fit of the two most important pieces (health and economy -in this order-) of this unusual puzzle that represents the current pandemic».
‘Our High Court, reflecting the order in reference to the case law of the Supreme Court, considers that this type of measure represents a slight limitation of certain fundamental rights which, faced with the powerful presence of other fundamental rights,such as life or health protection, provides an objective and reasonable justification for its adoption».
The TSJCV also considers justified the implementation of the Covid passport throughout the Valencian Community in view of the homogeneous upward and generalised trend of the pandemic curve throughout the territory, the foreseeable mobility of citizens in the light of Christmas and the emergence of new variants of the Sars-Cov-2.
With regard to their requirement to visit hospitals and residences, both public and private, the judges recall that in these areas there are «close and prolonged contacts» between patients and visitors and «the most vulnerable population» and sometimes people with reduced immunity to the disease.
The epidemiologists of the Generalitat point out in the report that was sent to the judges that the transmission of coronavirus presents a «growing trend» throughout the Valencian Community that confirms «the beginning of a new wave» with a sustained increase in cases.
«The evolution of the basic instantaneous reproductive number -to how many people spread a positive- is above 1, which means that the epidemic is not controlled», they explain. As at 22 November, that value stood at 1.36.
‘The risk assessment assigns for the level of transmission, medium risk or alert 2, while at hospital level the level of risk remains low due to the effectiveness of vaccination. Given that the implementation of non-pharmacological measures is related to the overflow of the health system, especially of hospital services, at present these indicators must have more weight than the risk of transmission, therefore, we assign to the Community a low risk level or alert 1», they point out.
After all the restrictions fell on October 9, professionals detected an increase in the circulation of the virus, «although this is not accompanied by a proportional increase in hospitalization and deaths» due to the high vaccination rate. However, they call for caution about what happens in other European countries such as Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom or Germany, with lower vaccination coverage, «especially when we are in a time of greater circulation of respiratory viruses, including influenza viruses, which in themselves lead to a saturation of care services».
We must not forget that the approach of Christmas traditionally entails a significant increase in social interaction, with a multitude of meetings of friends and family in a citizenry that could not celebrate this type of event last year, therefore it is the opportune moment to adopt non-pharmacological measures that, together with vaccination, can minimize the risk of transmission», the Council closed in the proposal submitted to the courts.