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President Torra to EU leaders: Catalonia needs a total lockdown

Catalan leader sends letter urging Commission to ensure that WHO guidelines are observed by Spain

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20 March 2020 12:11 PM

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ACN|Barcelona

Catalan president Quim Torra is stepping up his efforts to persuade the Spanish government to accept a total lockdown on Catalonia and an obligatory home confinement.

The head of the Catalan government, who announced he had tested positive for covid-19 on Monday, has sent a letter to the European Council president, Charles Michel, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the president of the European Committee of the Regions, Apostolos Tzitzikostas.

Torra asked Pedro Sánchez's cabinet to close all airports, ports and train links a week ago and said that once this was done, he would also order to block all roads in and out of Catalonia –the only major infrastructure under Torra's administration's control.

Yet, Spain rejected this appeal arguing that the measures are already tough enough and arguing that the benefit of a total lockdown would not pay off taking into account the impact it would have on the country. Sánchez has not accepted a lockdown on Madrid either, but Spain's land borders have been closed.

As for the home confinement, while Spain has limited the movement of people to unprecedented levels, employees are still allowed to go to work.

In the letter, Torra asked the three EU leaders to "ensure that WHO guidelines and recommendations are strictly observed by all member states, and that they are implemented respecting the powers and valuing the experiences of each level of governance."

"In other words, we believe that in order to tackle the current crisis successfully, both the needs and expertise of regions need to be taken into account," he said, also implicitly criticizing Spain for taking over the key Catalan services when executing the state of alarm last Saturday.

Torra also mentioned some of the measures he requested Pedro Sánchez to implement in Catalonia, such as "obligatory home confinement, providing companies with legal and economic coverage from the state in order to interrupt their activity; to completely prohibit entering or exiting Catalonia and other focuses of coronavirus; and to guarantee the supply of Covid-19 prevention material (tests, masks and gloves) to all affected areas."

"These measures are in line with the recommendations made by experts in the healthcare and scientific community to flatten the contagion curve, and are already being implemented in other European countries," he said.

The Catalan president also said he offered "to collaborate to ensure that all essential goods and services reach the people who need them most" in his letter to von der Leyen, Tzitzikostas and Michel.

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  • Catalan president Quim Torra working from his official residence following his coronavirus diagnosis

  • Catalan president Quim Torra working from his official residence following his coronavirus diagnosis

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