Catalonia and Spain disagree on nature of lockdown loosening for kids

Spanish executive proposes letting children join adults in activities permitted by state of alarm, while Catalan cabinet wants to allow them to visit parks

A girl enjoys a story told by an online storyteller, April 8, 2020 (by Pau Cortina)
A girl enjoys a story told by an online storyteller, April 8, 2020 (by Pau Cortina) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 21, 2020 03:39 PM

The Catalan and Spanish governments have put forward different criteria for loosening lockdown conditions for minors.

On Tuesday, Spain's cabinet spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, announced that, together with an extension of the state of alarm until May 9, this week it will propose to Congress that from April 27 children under 14 can "accompany adults doing activities permitted during the state of alarm, like trips to the supermarket or pharmacy."

"The majority of children have been at home for five weeks. The probability that they are infected is really low," she said. "We are not relaxing confinement measures, it is adults' responsibility that children comply with recommendations."

She also said that those between 14 and 17 have been able to carry out tasks like "buying bread" at all times and they will continue being able to do so. 

"People at home are already doing things like going for bread or the newspaper. A 4 or 5- year-old cannot do these things on their own, but a 15, 16 or 17-year-old is obviously already doing them and will continue to do so without any problems," explained Montero. 

Catalan government proposes 2-hour windows

Spain is not planning to let children leave home for anything not justified within the state of alarm rules, but the Catalan government proposed letting them access parks and areas with gardens - but not children's play parks - for up to 2 hours a day.

Quim Torra's executive planned to allow all minors from 0 to 17 years to leave home with time slots for different age groups.

These 2-hour time slots would permit children up until 6 years of age to leave home between 12pm and 2pm, while those between the ages of 6 and 16 would be allowed out from 4pm to 6pm and 16 and 17-year-olds from 6pm to 8pm. Unlike the others, 16 and 17-year-olds would not require parental supervision.

Yet, since the state of alarm meant Spain taking over Catalonia’' key services and centralizing powers when it comes to the response to Covid-19, Torra's proposal in principle cannot come into force unless it is approved by Madrid. 

"As we ease restrictions it is imperative that responsibilities be returned to the Catalan government. We hope that in the next few hours the Spanish executive will do so," the Catalan cabinet’s spokesperson, Meritxell Budó said on Tuesday.

Spain's representative said that the extension of the state of alarm that is planned allows that the relaxation of confinement could be different in each territory, but she did not mention a devolution of powers to regions.

Yet, Catalan health minister Alba Vergés criticized the Spanish government's proposal to allow minors to go out to do the same activities as adults rather than letting them go out for strolls.

The Catalan government proposal was for minors "to be able to go for a walk, to have space that they don’t at home, not to crowd our establishments and cause more tension," the minister said, asking for the measure to be justified.