Catalan interior minister says Barcelona's dramatic drop in traffic comes two weeks late

Spain's last-minute decree on non-essential workers causes confusion, says Catalan government spokesperson

Catalan interior minister Miquel Buch speaking at a press conference on March 30, 2020 (courtesy of Catalan Government)
Catalan interior minister Miquel Buch speaking at a press conference on March 30, 2020 (courtesy of Catalan Government) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 30, 2020 02:59 PM

Although traffic in and out of the Barcelona metropolitan area has decreased by 75% compared to a normal Monday and by a third compared to last week, Catalan interior Miquel Buch laments that it took the Spanish government two weeks to enhance the lockdown regulations Catalonia and a handful of other regions had been calling for to achieve these numbers.

"We could have already achieved these traffic figures on Monday, March 16. We hope that these will be further reduced from tomorrow," he said.

Meanwhile, Spanish interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska noted the traffic reduction seen in Barcelona and other major cities throughout Spain and said the trend would continue into Easter despite it being a time of the year that sees an increase in travel. "This Easter will be totally different from others, journeys by road are unthinkable; they won't take place," Grande-Marlaska affirmed. 

"Last-minute" lockdown enhancement

According to Catalan government spokesperson Meritxell Budó, who also spoke at a midday press conference on Monday to explain the latest developments in the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the Spanish government's "last-minute" decree banning workers in non-essential sectors from leaving home "caused unrest among thousands of workers" as it was published not long before midnight, at 11:36 pm on Sunday.

"We don't understand why things are done this way," she complained, in line with her colleague's remarks.

Health system "under pressure"

Catalan health minister Alba Vergés delivered somber news on Monday, stating that medical centers throughout Catalonia are "under pressure" as 84% of all beds at ICUs are being utilized by covid-19 patients.

"This week we will equip ICUs, hotels and other designated places so that medical professionals can work well," she added in reference to the makeshift health centers have been set up to supplement overburdened hospitals.