President: exceptional measures maybe until June if no lockdown
"We have to get ready for a situation that is now difficult to conceive," says Quim Torra
The Catalan president, Quim Torra, said on Wednesday that the exceptional measures to fight the coronavirus crisis might be in force until June if a total lockdown on Catalonia is not executed.
In a rare parliamentary meeting via video link, he said: "The worst estimations foresee the peak of the covid-19 crisis in late April, meaning we wouldn't have normality until maybe June."
In order to improve the estimations, he urged again the Spanish government to execute a total lockdown on Catalonia. The first time he put forward the appeal was on March 13, when the total number of cases declared was 509 – the latest update, on Tuesday evening, brought the figure to 9,937.
Torra said that this government's priority is "flattening the curve," as well as stopping contagions and avoiding the collapse of healthcare system, especially in the intensive care units.
"We have to get ready for a situation that is now difficult to conceive, we need to take forceful decisions," he added, insisting on the lockdown. Torra also called on the public to be responsible and follow the instructions to stay home.
Opposition asks for army to be deployed
The parliamentary meeting included a response to the president by several parliamentary groups.
The head of the opposition, unionist Ciudadanos' Carlos Carrizosa, asked for more help for self-employed people and also called for a "unitary" public budget.
At the moment, the 2020 Catalan budget is pending the study of a legal committee, and was expected to be passed in April – the last one that achieved a majority in the chamber was that of 2017, which has been extended since then.
Carrizosa also requested loyalty between administrations and "responsibility" for all governments, as well as calling on the government to ask for the army to be deployed to help in nursing homes.
The Socialists also asked for the army's help at field hospitals and to disinfect sites. Their leader in Catalonia, Miquel Iceta, criticized president Torra’s own public criticism of the Spanish government’s approach to the crisis, saying "quarrels are not helpful in fighting against the virus."
The head of the anti-austerity CatECP party, Jéssica Albiach, defended the confinement decreed by the Spanish government, of which her party is a coalition partner. The measures were the "most drastic confinement measures in the West" she said, adding that "the best protection" for covid-19 is "to never allow further health cuts or privitazation" of the health sector.
Meanwhile, Maria Sirvent of the far left CUP party called for the nationalization of healthcare resources and for the covid-19 crisis "to be paid for by the banks." She accused Torra’s government of making statements that "contradicted" the decrees they had enacted.
The right wing People’s Party called on Torra to seek and accept help "wherever it comes from" to fight the coronavirus. Secretary General Daniel Serrano said "this battle will not be won alone" and urged the president to ask for support from the military.