Café terraces reopen in Lleida but businesses want further easing of measures
Gyms and sports centers in Barcelona and Figueres open doors again
Café and restaurant terraces in Lleida reopened on Thursday morning, despite officially not being permitted to do so until 4pm.
Bars and eateries have been shut for the past two weeks following a surge in coronavirus cases in the city in western Catalonia.
Lleida residents enjoyed the pleasant morning sunshine, happy that premises were opening again, but quick to point out that the inside areas should reopen as well as the terraces.
With temperatures expected to reach and possibly exceed 40C (104F) this week, one local said that "in summer, in Lleida, you can't be out on the street."
Judge confirms easing of lockdown
As expected, a judge confirmed on Thursday the easing of some measures in Lleida and six other municipalities: Alcarràs, Aitona, La Granja d'Escarp, Seròs, Soses and Torres de Segre.
As of 4pm, and for the next two weeks, all shops can serve customers without appointment, and terraces can open to 50% capacity until midnight.
Gatherings of more than 10 people will continue to be prohibited, while religious ceremonies are allowed at up to a third of capacity, and outdoor pools, playgrounds and sports facilities can open up to 50% capacity.
Hospitality sector wants more restrictions lifted
Rosa Gich, a bar owner in Lleida, complained that the city was being treated worse than the Catalan capital.
"I find it very serious that in Barcelona they can open like that [indoor seating areas], and here we can't, especially given how much the sector has suffered."
About 20 members of the hospitality industry took part in a protest demanding measures should be relaxed further.
"Only opening bar terraces isn't enough, especially if they can only run at 50% capacity," said Dani Consuegra, from the New Citizen Unity platform.
"A business isn't profitable this way. And even if it were, what about the rest of bars [without terraces]?"
Gyms reopen in Barcelona and Figueres
Some restrictions were also eased in Barcelona and the northern town of Figueres. Sports centers and gyms were able to open their doors again on Thursday following a decision from Catalonia's High Court (TSJC).
"We really wanted to reopen," David Paredes, director of Barcelona's Picornell sports center, told the Catalan News Agency (ACN).
Paredes said the court's decision was "fair" and that very strict hygiene measures would be applied.
Carla Parra, who runs FitFigueres, was also happy to be open again, but complained that they had been forced to close on July 20.
Parra says that they scrupulously comply with "all security measures" and are not a source of Covid-19 infection.
Figueres Council says it is studying the safety measures set out by the Catalan High Court but, municipal sports facilities remain closed in the town for now.