Weekend lockdown among tightened Covid measures considered in Catalonia

School closures "not on the table," insist education department officials

An empty Tarragona street on October 25, shortly after curfew (by Eloi Tost)
An empty Tarragona street on October 25, shortly after curfew (by Eloi Tost) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 26, 2020 03:20 PM

As Catalonia heads into its first week with a 10 pm-6 am curfew under the second Spain-wide Covid-19 state of alarm, further restrictions are already being considered in an attempt to rein in the relentless surge in cases and fatalities.

One of these possible restrictions would be to impose a weekend lockdown, said government spokesperson Meritxell Budó in an interview with Catalunya Ràdio on Monday morning, as the public health system is beginning to feel "significant" strain.

"We need to avoid a lockdown like the one we had in March unless it is strictly necessary. That's why we need to consider different scenarios, one of which could be this," Budó explained, referring to potential home-confinement orders on Saturdays and Sundays to prevent the spread of the virus.

Health department secretary general Marc Ramentol, who was also interviewed by Catalunya Ràdio on Monday morning, explained that imposing home confinement orders on weekends was being considered as the closure of bars and restaurants would not succeed in curbing new infections by the end of the week when the restriction was initially set to expire by.

Ramentol further argued that the current public health situation "indicates new measures will be necessary," and stated that these would be finalized "in the coming days."

Schools to remain open

In-person schooling is set to continue taking place, with the education department's director of public schools, Josep Gonzàlez Cambray, insisting the closure of education centers is "not on the table."

Before the academic year began on September 14, authorities maintained that schools would remain open to prevent further disruption to students and their families. On Monday, Cambray claimed schools would be "the last to close," adding that they would only do so as a last resort.

Cambray, however, said that hybrid learning and other measures were being considered for post-compulsory education levels as the virus can affect teenagers differently than younger children.

'Speculation' criticized

Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) have been criticized by their governing partners Esquerra (ERC), as well as the Catalan Socialists, for speculating over possible further anti-Covid measures before they have been agreed upon.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, the ERC's Marta Vilalta said that restrictions should only be made public once an agreement on them had been reached.

"Speculation should be avoided and issues that have not been decided upon should not be communicated," Vilalta argued.