Catalan interior minister to New York Times: 'drastic, tough and efficient decisions' needed

Buch stresses need for stricter measures to halt covid-19 pandemic in interview with US publication

Interior Minister Miquel Buch at a press conference, March 14, 2020 (by Rubén Moreno / Interior Ministry)
Interior Minister Miquel Buch at a press conference, March 14, 2020 (by Rubén Moreno / Interior Ministry) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 21, 2020 02:17 PM

Speaking to US newspaper The New York Times, Catalan interior minister Miquel Buch stressed the need for "drastic, tough, and efficient decisions" to tackle the ongoing coronavirus public health crisis in Catalonia and beyond.

"When we in Catalonia were taking drastic measures not to let the disease propagate, in Spain they were not," Buch added. 

Since the onset of the covid-19 outbreak, Spanish and Catalan authorities have been in disagreement over its handling, with the Catalan government calling for even stricter measures – including a total lockdown only permitting people providing essential services to work – while the Spanish government has repeatedly argued that the course of action it has mandated is sufficient.

According to the New York Times, "Catalonia’s government reacted more quickly than Mr. Sánchez, closing bars and restaurants last Friday and asking national authorities to help cordon off their region from the rest of Spain."

The Spanish government declared a state of alarm a day later, on March 14, that does limit the movement of people by only allowing them to leave home for certain reasons, including to buy basic goods, go to work, see a doctor, take care of dependent people, or for reasons of force majeure, but it still allows workers in non-essential sectors to go to their workplaces if they are still required to do so by their employers. 

Land borders have also been closed except for Spanish nationals and residents as well as certain special cases where people may need to enter the country.

Meanwhile, the Catalan government has not been able to implement the complete confinement of Catalonia it has been calling for as it does not have authority over ports or airports. 

With the state of alarm, the Spanish government has also taken over the powers of all health, emergency services, and police authorities at all levels, including the Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra.