New Covid-19 restrictions: all activities forced to end by 12.30am
Catalan government to ask judiciary for permission to limit gatherings to 10 people again
All activities in public spaces will have to end by 12.30am in Catalonia.
This is the main restriction announced by the Catalan government on Monday, in an effort to stop the fifth wave of Covid-19, which has seen the highest number of weekly new transmissions since the beginning of the pandemic.
Several cabinet members met on Monday afternoon, led by the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, and decided to force premises and activities such as nightlife and restaurants to close by 12.30am.
Also, the executive announced that the judiciary will have to grant its permission to limit gatherings to 10 people again – the measure was lifted on June 21. Since the restriction would affect fundamental rights and Spain is no longer under a state of alarm, the Catalan administration is obliged to get court approval before implementing the cap.
Government spokesperson Patricia Plaja said that all public activities will be affected by 12.30am limit: culture, music and restaurants, including take away and delivery. All events must be held with the attendees seated.
The cabinet is also recommending that local authorities close all public places where crowds have been seen lately from 12.30am to 6am, such as parks and beaches.
The 10-person cap on gatherings will apply in public and in private while the government will also ban on-street eating and drinking.
The health minister, Josep Maria Argimon, explained that the current explosion of coronavirus cases was behind the new measures and that young people are making up more hospitalizations than during previous waves.
"25% of those in ICU due to Covid-19 are under 40," he said, adding that the average age in intensive care has now fallen to 50 years old and that the Delta variant accounts for 80% of new transmissions.
Argimon also explained that the "very high" number of transmissions is expected to continue for a number of weeks.
The interior minister, Joan Ignasi Elena, called on Catalan residents to "reduce social interactions" and increase their levels of caution. He urged people to not only follow regulations, but recommendations too.
The new restrictions will come into force as soon as the courts give their ruling on them, which could be "tomorrow or the day after."
Catalan government lawyers are also making preparations in case the curfew needs to be enforced again. It ended on May 9 after more than 6 months in place. Like the cap on gatherings, a curfew affects fundamental rights and needs legal approval in order to be implemented outside of a state of alarm period.