County-level lockdown to remain in force in Catalonia

Authorities had considered opening mobility restrictions to wider regions but instead opt for more cautious approach

A Catalan police officer talks to a driver at the border of the Segrià county (by Oriol Bosch)
A Catalan police officer talks to a driver at the border of the Segrià county (by Oriol Bosch) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 16, 2021 09:34 AM

Catalonia looks set to keep the county-level lockdown in force for at least another week beyond the date of April 19 when the current Covid-19 measures are set to expire. 

Officials had considered opening mobility up to wider regions such as the ‘vegueries’ or health regions, but in the end they have preferred to maintain a slower, more cautious de-escalation approach, as was confirmed in a press conference on Friday. 

According to Catalonia's interior minister Miquel Sàmper, authorities are currently working on a plan to lift Covid-19 restrictions "slowly and safely."

Authorities and health experts are worried about the evolution of the pandemic, especially following the Easter holiday weekend, although Health secretary-general Marc Ramentol admitted on Friday that there had not been "an explosion of cases" as feared. According to him, contagion levels have now "stabilized" after a steady increase. 

The transmission rate in Catalonia now stands at 1.39, having skyrocketed from 0.87 as recently as April 9. 

From March 25 to April 15, the number of patients in intensive care due to Covid-19 rose from 400 to 500. In that time, the number of patients in hospitals with the virus has also grown by more than 300 and now stands at 1,672.

"500 people in ICUs is still a very, very high number," Public Health secretary Josep Maria Argimon argued.

Prior to Easter, important metrics such as the number of hospitalized patients, ICU occupancy, and the outbreak risk had been moving in a positive direction, but since then, data have been worsening. The decrease in cases had even stopped before the long weekend, and as citizens were able to freely travel throughout Catalonia for the holiday, officials feared it would have a strong impact on the Covid-19 data.  

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau has repeatedly called for an exception to the county-level lockdown in the Catalan capital, as the population density often results in crowding at the city's natural spaces such as the beaches or Collserola Park on weekends.  

She would rather see a lockdown of the metropolitan area of Barcelona be enforced, which comprises various counties surrounding the city.

Politicians have also been considering allowing tickets to cultural shows and events be a justifiable reason to travel beyond one's county of residence.