Covid-19 restrictions set to remain in place as authorities cool on loosening
Spain considering shutting down non-essential activity by 8 pm but Catalan authorities are sceptical
The current measures in force to halt the spread of Covid-19 in Catalonia look set to remain in place, as authorities will deliberate and make a decision on Thursday.
Previously, government officials hinted at possibly loosening restrictions further this month, with the possibility of allowing bars and restaurants to operate beyond the current 5 pm limit.
8 pm shut down of non-essential activity ruled out
Easter will not see an 8 pm shut down of non-essential activity, following a decision at an interterritorial council meeting on Wednesday not to bring in stricter measures over the holiday period.
Instead, restrictions across Spain are to remain as outlined at a previous meeting of health chiefs on March 10.
The Spanish ministry of health had earlier raised the possibility with the various regions of shutting down non-essential activities by 8pm. Carolina Darias, the minister for health in Pedro Sánchez's government, contacted her Catalan counterpart Alba Vergés to raise this possibility
However, Vergés was skeptical about the measure and asked Darias for more detail on "what they want and with what intention."
Vergés was open to assessing the idea, but criticized the Spanish ministry of health, saying "these things cannot go to the last minute" and reproached them for now wanting to "coordinate" measures.
On the other hand, she ruled out relaxing measures and said the stalemate "does not allow for progress".
At the meeting of health ministers from regional authorities, Darias expressed concern with the recent epidemiological data.
She said authorities were worried about the number of Covid-19 cases, the number of people in hospitals and said it was now a "key moment."
Spain's health minister also stressed that the limits on travel and social interaction for Easter were the minimum, and regional governments could impose stricter measures.
The topic of an 8 pm shut down was largely absent from the minister's message to the press on Wednesday evening, suggesting that the idea did not gain much traction at the meeting.
Catalan and Spanish authorities have ruled out a widespread reopening of the economy over Easter, as happened over Christmas, and have instead announced tighter restrictions on social gatherings.
Spanish regional governments have also agreed to keep their borders shut during the upcoming holiday, which usually sees crowds of Spaniards travelling to other regions.
Elsewhere, the curfew will remain in place, and public gatherings will be limited to four people indoors or six people outside. Private gatherings are not allowed except among people co-habiting.
These restrictions will be in force from March 26 to April 9.