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Catalonia looks at stricter Covid-19 measures amid worsening health situation

Nighttime curfew and capacity limits in parks may be brought in as the pandemic could disrupt the election

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22 October 2020 02:12 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

October has seen the situation of the health crisis deteriorate rapidly in Catalonia. We’ve seen record-high new daily positive cases on numerous occasions even surpassing figures seen during the first wave, the outbreak risk skyrocket to nearly 567 by October 22, and the number of hospitalised patients take a huge sudden increase. 

In the middle of the month, the Catalan government implemented a new set of restrictions with the aim of halting the spread of the virus, the strictest seen since the total confinement during spring 2020. 

Included in the new measures is the forced closure of bars and restaurants, and lower capacity caps put in place for shops, cultural activities, and gyms, among others. 

Authorities are now considering taking further actions to try to act on the worsening health situation in the country. 

State of alarm and curfew

Pedro Sánchez’s government are considering bringing in a curfew, similar to that seen in nearby France and Belgium. In order to implement this, a state of alarm would have to be decreed. 

Catalonia’s interior minister Miquel Sàmper believes it is “very possible" that the Spanish government could propose this measure to the Catalan authorities.

The minister also said that the Catalan government wants to be "less interventionist" in the second wave of the pandemic. Given the chance of much stricter mobility measures at night with a curfew, Sàmper rose the possibility of “less restrictive” measures being brought in for during the day.

Possible election disruption

Speaking with Catalan radio station Rac1, Miquel Sàmper also warned about the possibility of the upcoming election being disrupted due to the pandemic. 

The interior minister said that if people’s ability to vote is hampered by restrictions, the vote should not be valid. 

Therefore, the government have asked for a report from the Catalan Ombudsman on the possibility of preserving the right to vote and how the health crisis could limit people’s capability to take part in the democratic process. 

Limited capacities in natural parks 

Miquel Sàmper also announced that the Civil Protection body will limit the amount of people who can enter natural parks at any given time, as well as the associated car parks.

Sàmper announced the move arguing that the country could not see a repeat of the scene last week, when “kilometres and kilometres” of cars jammed the roads trying to reach Montseny natural park. 

The politician argued that the buildup of vehicles on these roads could block a fire truck or an ambulance from reaching an emergency. 

Local councils are the bodies in charge of managing parks, and Barcelona and Girona authorities said that they would give details of the measure soon. 

Sàmper also confirmed that the interior ministry would help in enforcing this measure.

Calls for antigen tests in care homes

Cinta Pascual, president of the Catalan association of nursing home entities (ACRA), has called on the government to immediately provide antigen tests to the residencies.

Pascual argues that there’s little point in delivering the tests in two weeks’ time, “it must be now because we are in a bad situation now," she warned in an interview with the Catalan News Agency. 

The ACRA president is confident that visits from relatives will not be restricted during the second wave of the pandemic because they can be made safely and with all safety guarantees, while at the same time accepting that there is always going to be some risk involved. 

For the residents, the visits from family and loved ones are a “joy,” and Pascual argues that the health situation is worse in society in general than inside care homes. 

She also went on to explain that the residences are "much more prepared" for drastic situations than six months ago and has assured that it would be "very surprised" that the whole health system would collapse again. 

"We have worked hard with both the administration and we are prepared.”

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  • Vehicles parked at one of the car parks of the Alr Pirineu natural park, October 2020 (by Albert Lijarcio)

  • Vehicles parked at one of the car parks of the Alr Pirineu natural park, October 2020 (by Albert Lijarcio)

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