Government passes legal reform to reimpose lockdown measures amid coronavirus surge

Lleida will face additional restrictions from midnight despite Monday's court ruling as L'Hospitalet de Llobregat residents advised to stay home

Catalan president Quim Torra and the members of his government meet in the Generalitat Palace (by Catalan Government/Jordi Bedmar)
Catalan president Quim Torra and the members of his government meet in the Generalitat Palace (by Catalan Government/Jordi Bedmar) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 14, 2020 11:20 AM

The Catalan government has passed a legal reform to overstep a judicial court ban and impose tougher lockdown measures in parts of the country as coronavirus infections continue to rise.

With the number of Covid-19 cases in Barcelona tripling in a week and Catalonia as a whole reporting daily figures not seen in almost two months, the government is backtracking the reopening of the country after months of lockdown, imposing instead fresh movement restrictions in coronavirus hotspots, and making the use of face masks compulsory.

The Catalan government's attempt to harden the lockdown in the town of Lleida and seven municipalities in Segrià county, in western Catalonia, was halted by a regional court on Sunday.

"We don’t agree with this legal decision. We don’t accept it. I will face any legal consequences, but I can’t put people’s health at risk,” said president Quim Torra.

The government modified the Public Health law through a decree passed on Monday night, saying it is now entitled to limit certain activities and impose movement restrictions during a pandemic.

Tighter lockdown from midnight 

As expected, following the passing of the decree, the government approved a tightening of the lockdown restrictions in parts of western Catalonia during a meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

The city of Lleida and seven other municipalities in Segrià will now see heavier measures in force for the next two weeks, beginning from midnight on Tuesday night.

The new lockdown involves restrictions on movement, stricter rules for restaurants, bars, and businesses, and prohibits socializing in groups of more than ten people, virtually the same measures the government attempted to bring in before the regional court ruled against them on Monday morning.

Government spokesperson Meritxell Budó is confident that there will not be any more legal bumps in the road as the decree approved on Monday gives "the legal framework" for the implementation of the measures.

The proposed two-week period, Budó said, is "open to revision" and may be modified or extended depending on the number of new Covid-19 cases.

She confirmed that the latest confinement measures "replicate what had already been set out" on Sunday for Lleida and the other towns affected in Segrià.

Restaurants will only be allowed to open for home delivery or takeaway collection while shopping for non-essentials will be by appointment only.

The restrictions on groups of over ten people meeting up apply both in private and public, and the consumption of food and drink at such gatherings is not permitted.

Despite these restrictions, Budó insisted that Lleida residents were not facing "home confinement", but rather the government is requesting "that you only leave home for the essentials".

"People can go out for a walk, to play sports, exercise, go shopping, but keep in mind that there is a very significant outbreak, something people have to remain conscious of. Anything not in the resolution passed is not allowed," she added at the press conference following a meeting of the executive.

Non-essential workers will have 24 hours from midnight to enter or leave the affected area in order to gather the materials they need to allow them to work remotely.

1.23 billion euros to face the pandemic

Meanwhile, on Tuesday morning, the Catalan government announced that it was allocating 1.23 billion euros to the 2020 budget to fund the extraordinary spending required by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences.

L'Hospitalet de Llobregat residents advised to stay home

The government has also advised that people in the neighborhoods hardest hit by coronavirus in L'Hospitalet de LlobregatCollblanc, La Florida, and La Torrassa - avoid leaving home.

The capacity of bars and restaurants will be limited and the reopening of theaters, gyms, and other public spaces with large gatherings will be suspended.