Government urged to reopen shopping centers and loosen weekend restrictions

Barcelona local council asks Catalan administration to allow complete mobility within metropolitan area to avoid unnecessary "gatherings"

Image of busy Portal de l'Àngel boulevard in central Barcelona on December 8, 2020 (by Gemma Sánchez)
Image of busy Portal de l'Àngel boulevard in central Barcelona on December 8, 2020 (by Gemma Sánchez) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 10, 2020 01:50 PM

The Barcelona local council urged the Catalan government on Thursday to reopen shopping centers and loosen current weekend municipality lockdowns.

Deputy mayor Jaume Collboni, argued that this will help avoid unnecessary “gatherings” during the festive season.

This petition was officially submitted to the Catalan government in order to “relieve the pressure on the city”.

In an address from the Rambla, Collboni said he hoped the cabinet would adopt the measures, and that 80% of these malls are small businesses rather than large chains.

He argued this would allow these small businesses to take part in the Christmas season.

Under the current de-escalation phase 1, shopping malls cannot open, although department stores in the city center like El Corte Inglés can do so.

People are also not allowed to leave their town of residence from 6am on Fridays at 6am on Monday. 

Bank holiday crowds

The city council has attributed the traffic jams and collapse of public transport in the city this past week, during the long bank holiday weekend, to shopping centers being shut. 

Over this weekend, it was reported that Barcelona was filled with people, unable to comply with distancing measures due to the sheer amount of shoppers, combined with 30% capacity limits within shops.

Debate over shopping centers

On Wednesday, a protest joined by over a hundred people working in malls was held in the Catalan capital's Plaça Sant Jaume, to argue this very point.

However, Interim Catalan president Pere Aragonès does not attribute the busy city center streets to shopping malls being shut.

Yet, the head of the Civil Protection authority, Sergio Delgado, said on Wednesday that they would "analyze" whether it is appropriate to continue barring shopping centers from reopening. 

He suggested that allowing those in open-air places could reduce the number of shoppers in the center.

Collboni therefore added that this measure would help “people to come to the center and walk around safely”, by spreading out the concentration of visitors.