What bars and nightlife will have to close under the new toughened regulations announced Friday 14th August?

The simple answer is that, as yet, nobody can be 100% sure. This article will explain the process, and help people understand the licencing categories of Spanish leisure venues. It is an article that doesn’t give all the answers, but goes some way to explain why they can’t be given. 

The normal way of these things throughout the pandemic is that the announcement is made in one of the Government briefings, this is followed by several days speculation and debate, and the final details are published in the state bulletins, in this case as it affects Ibiza, the ‘Butlletí Oficial de les Illes Balears (BOIB)’.

What is going on? Which venues will have to close completely? Which venues will have to close early? An explanation, of sorts.
What is going on? Which venues will have to close completely? Which venues will have to close early? An explanation, of sorts.

The announcement stated that Clubs and Nightlife will have to be closed completely. Also, that Bars, Restaurants and Hotels must close at 1am and must not allow any new patrons to enter after midnight.

Licencing 

Spanish food and drink establishments are licenced into the following categories.

  • Discothèque – Nightclubs
  • Café Concierto – A venue that is first and foremost for food but has permission to stage entertainment including live music.
  • Restaurante – Restaurants
  • Café – Cafes, often combined Bar Cafes.
  • Bar – Bar

The difficulty is that in practice none of these licences, aside from Disco, tend to define what a business does. If it were strictly applied as per the type of licence held, it would be reasonable to assume that all Discos and Café Conciertos would be closed, All Restaurants, Cafés and Bars would need to close earlier at 1am. But this is Spain, and things are not that simple.

Nightclubs

Disco is the easy one. It applies to nightclubs, and only nightclubs have that licence. Venues with a Disco licence must be closed and in Ibiza that means no change as they have not opened all season.

Beach Clubs & Day Parties

Beach Clubs and Day Parties would be the next on the ‘party scale’ of venues we could assume targeted by the new regulations in terms of their activity. But the powers that be in Madrid probably do not even think of parties in a daytime context. What they call nightlife would, in its activity, include what we know as Beach Clubs and Day Parties. 

However, in official terms, Beach Clubs do not exist – there is no such licencing category. All of Ibiza’s beach clubs are licenced under one of the other categories, most of them are officially restaurants, which has caused a lot of argument over recent years in attempts to curb their activities as going beyond their planning consent. To allow beach clubs to continue to operate due to the grey area of their licencing would cause some upset without doubt.

Cafe Conciertos

On the other side of the permissions fence are the many café conciertos that hold that licence in name only. Many of them are in operation what you would see as nothing more than a regular bar restaurant or bar cafe. Their activity would not be that the regulations describe as wanting to close completely.  

Restaurants

Restaurants tend to be more straightforward in their licences describing what they do, though some do exceed their licence in holding live entertainment, and some go as far as to be running full on beach clubs under that licence.

Cafes & Bars

What is a Café and what is a Bar? God only knows, and the ‘B’ or ‘C’ plaque outside the door will be no more than some vague guide as to what goes on indoors.

Summary

In summary what we have is a shambles of a licencing system. By example the Ibiza nightclub DC10 ran for several years on a bar or café licence permitting around 25 people on the premises. They were holding parties for thousands on that licence.

For this reason, if the powers that be want to achieve their aim of closing venues with a certain type of party activity, they will have to be working much harder on a method of applying their new rules than a simple definition of ‘licenced bars’ can stay open, licenced ‘café conciertos’ must close etc.

How will they do it? We do not know. It will not be easy, but one thing is for sure and you could take our money on. It will be complicated, often unfair, and often illogical.

Spain has many wonderful attributes; many of them may be considered examples to other countries. Spain’s approach to family and family values, their social life, the climate, their gastronomy, all these things they score well against any competition. But their administration? Let’s just say it’s not their strong point.

We’ll keep a look out for the next BOIB updates, so watch this space for more information during the next few days.