Closure of bars, theaters and gyms extended until Nov 23
Catalonia prolongs coronavirus restrictions for another ten days but plans to ease some of them afterwards
Catalonia is extending the closure of bars and restaurants, sports centers, and culture venues another ten days, thus keeping coronavirus restrictions at least until November 23 despite fierce criticism from some business owners and workers.
According to public health secretary Josep Maria Argimon, this decision was made in order to "prioritize health."
Beauty and massage parlors are allowed to reopen, but can only offer individual services.
After a mass at Barcelona's Sagrada Família basilica was attended by 588 people last weekend, places of worship will see gatherings limited to 100 people with a 30% capacity cap.
The Catalan government decided to prolong the measures despite a proposal from Business minister Ramon Tremosa to start a partial reopening of bars next weekend.
The Health Department made it clear that while the daily increase of Covid-19 cases is slowing down, the situation at ICUs is expected to get worse.
Yet, in a press conference on Thursday, health minister Vergés announced that the government is working on a plan to ease restrictions from November 23, including reopening of "low risk" open-air activities and bar terraces.
The restrictions to be extended include the closure of bars and restaurants, gyms and cultural venues, as well as the closure of Catalan borders with the rest of Spain and the partial weekend lockdown – that is, the ban on people leaving their town of residence from Friday at 6am to Monday at 6am unless for a justified or essential reason.
The night curfew from 10pm to 6am is already extended officially from November 9 and will also last until November 23.
The decision of extending the measures comes despite a decrease in the transmission rate and the outbreak risk of Covid-19 – the health department believes that the peak of contagions in the second wave was reached last week.
Yet, the pressure in hospitals is still high, and it is expected that the peak will be reached at some point this week, according to health secretary general Marc Ramentol.
"Over the coming 10 days, we will be able to ease the pressure on hospital admissions, primary care centers, and ICUs," Ramentol said.
The official also warned, however, that authorities expect a third wave of the pandemic. For this reason, Ramentol ruled out easing the measures for the Christmas seasons because "the pandemic does not have a cease fire" on festive days.