Restrictions on dining, mobility, and gyms in Catalonia take effect
Vaccine approval allows authorities to begin December 27 campaign as UK flights banned
A number of new Covid-19 restrictions have come into effect in Catalonia this Monday.
These new measures include, among others, rules limiting the opening hours of seating areas in bars and restaurants to between 7:30 and 9:30 am and 1 and 3:30 pm.
Around 3:30 pm on Monday, people could still be seen finishing up their lunches at terraces on Barcelona's Rambla Catalunya, but not long after, tables in this usually vibrant part of town were deserted.
The move to severely limit both indoor and outdoor dining has angered business owners, who believe they will not be able to make up for losses by only offering takeaway and delivery for dinner and who complain of insufficient government aid.
A few hundred restaurant owners and workers took to the streets of Barcelona on Monday evening to express their discontent with a measure they say will likely bankrupt them.
As of December 21, mobility is also restricted to one's county of residence on weekdays and not only weekends, although there are some exceptions such as to visit close friends and family on key days throughout the upcoming holiday season.
People who wish to go to the gym, where they can only practice low-intensity sports indoors and capacity is capped at 30%, must make an appointment to exercise as well as wear a face mask except for swimming.
EMA greenlights Pfizer vaccine
Catalonia's latest Covid-19 measures came into effect the same day the European Medicines Agency announced its approval of the Pfizer vaccine, meaning health authorities in Catalonia will be able to begin the inoculation campaign on December 27.
Both Catalan health minister Alba Vergés and Spanish health minister Salvador Illa claimed vaccinations would begin on the first day possible, December 27, after the European Commission made its vaccine rollout plan public last week.
Spain bans UK flights
In a joint decision with Portugal, Spain has decided to suspend all flights from the UK starting on December 22, and only citizens and residents will be allowed to return.
This comes after a dozen other EU countries announced a similar measure following British prime minister Boris Johnson's warning that a new Covid-19 strain had been detected in the UK.