“I had to come to the clinic to get the COVID passport because I don’t have internet at home”.

Miguel Marchena’s luck could change this Saturday. After spending the entire pandemic without a job, this resident of the Besòs district of Barcelona, finally has a job interview. “I’m afraid they’ll ask me for the Covid certificate and I’ve come to get it printed,” he explained this Friday at the exit of the clinic.

Catalonia will demand again from Friday the COVID passport in bars.

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As Marchena, a trail of people left early this morning from the Primary Care Center (CAP) of Besòs with the Covid certificate printed in hand: most of them had no other way to get it that approaching their center of reference. Some residents of this neighbourhood, with one of the highest poverty rates in the city, are elderly and do not know how to get it. Others, like Marchena, have no Internet at home or on their mobile phones.

“I only have a prepaid phone,” explained this 56-year-old resident. “I came several days this week to see if they would print it for me and there was no way, it was collapsed”. As he explains, many residents of the neighborhood have rushed at the last minute to get vaccinated since it was announced the obligation to show this certificate to enter bars, restaurants and gyms. This morning at 9 o’clock Marchena was already in the ambulatory to get it. He was accompanied by his sister Paqui, who has taken advantage of the visit with his family doctor to have his vaccination passport printed.

The Generalitat de Catalunya decreed the obligatory nature of showing this certificate last Friday, but the system to achieve it collapsed to the point that they were forced to suspend the measure for a week. From this Friday it is compulsory again, although there were still many restaurants that were not asking for it.

According to data from the Departament de Salut, only between November 22 and December 1 were downloaded more than 2.7 million of certificates in Catalonia. On Thursday, a few hours before the measure came into force again, there were more than 267,000 downloads, many of them from a website opened by the Government to facilitate obtaining this document.

“Many patients do not have internet access or have many problems to download it and come here to give it to them,” explains Meritxell Sanchez, a physician at this clinic in the Besòs. “We hope that now with the new website that has opened lower demand”.

The professionals of this center explain that they have had to meet an increase in requests for vaccination along with requests for help from many neighbors to download the certificate. All those who came out with the passport in hand stressed, however, how easy it has been put by doctors to print this document.

Among the people who came out with their certificate there was a generalized opinion: every day there are more and more procedures that require the use of technology and there is a sector of the population that is completely left behind. “When you are of a certain age, if you are not very familiar with technology it is a mess,” said Carlos Forner, 66 years old. “For many older people, everything is more difficult every day”.

Rosario Muñoz, 66, pointed in the same direction. “I don’t have a clue about the Internet,” explained this woman with auburn hair and pink glasses, matching her coat. “I have a computer that I only dust. Muñoz pointed out that she had already exhausted her children’s patience some time ago with everything related to technology. This time he didn’t want to ask them to help him get the certificate.

“I saw on TV that they said we should call our children,” he said, referring to the words of the Minister of Health, Josep Maria Argimon, in which he suggested that older people should ask the younger members of the family for help. “But my son has very little patience and I didn’t want to bother him”.

The reasons for obtaining the certificate varied depending on the neighbours. Juan Antonio Fontanet hase is 62 years old and is retired due to a heart disease after years working at a gas station. He doesn’t have internet either but he took advantage of the bar’s wifi to access the Govern’s application and download the certificate. Even so, he didn’t succeed. “It hung up on me and I felt useless at the end,” he said as he left the clinic. Now she has come to ask for it so she can have breakfast at the bar below her house.

Others, like Isabel González, 76, who came to the neighbourhood from Almería in the 60s, wanted it to go to her village for Christmas. “I don’t know if they’re going to ask me for it somewhere, but I wanted to stay calm,” she said. “If all of a sudden they ask for it to travel by train and I don’t have it, I don’t want to have to stay at home”.

Then there were cases like Rosario Muñoz, who didn’t want it for anything in particular.

– So why did she come today to get it?

– I do everything they ask me to do, I do it to the letter!

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