Torra to request to Spain to return Catalan authority in coronavirus management
The president of Catalonia also calls on people to observe a staggered timetable when leaving the house with children
Catalan president Quim Torra will ask the Spanish leader Pedro Sánchez to give competency back to Catalonia in the management of the coronavirus crisis. Torra will make the request during Sunday’s meeting between the Spanish president and the heads of the regional governments.
The Catalan executive also calls on families to observe a staggered timetable when leaving the house with children, which citizens are allowed to do as of tomorrow. The creation of a committee of legal experts to ensure the "basic rights of citizens" during the period of lifting lockdown restrictions was also announced.
Torra made the announcement in a press briefing following an Executive Council meeting of the Catalan government on Saturday afternoon. "Centralization in decision-making has not been effective. Decisions cannot be made 600 kilometers away," the Catalan president argues.
When the state of alarm was first declared on March 14, powers over essential services such as health and police were centralized to the Spanish government. Currently, the state of alarm is in place until May 9, after three extensions of the extreme measures in place to put a halt to the public health emergency.
For the Catalan president, an “asymmetric” plan to move from a state of lockdown to normal life must be the way forward, “depending on the localities and towns."
"That is why we will ask [the Spanish government] to return the coronavirus competencies immediately." Torra also called on the opposition parties in the Catalan parliament for support in this request.
Staggered leaving times
Torra proposes certain scheduled times for families with children to leave the house, with the aim of avoiding crowds and lots of people out in public at any given time.
He calls on families with children from 6-11 years old to leave the house between 11 am and 1 pm, while asking older children and teenagers to leave from 4 to 6 in the afternoon.
The Spanish government announced last Tuesday evening that children could go out for walks and do exercise in a U-turn of what had been announced earlier in the day. From Sunday, April 26, up to three children per accompanying adult will be allowed out for one hour a day, between 9 am and 9 pm, within 1 km of their home.
“New cultural and social habits”
“There are three major phases” of the lockdown as Catalonia is in right now and returning to normal life afterwards, Torra explains.
“The first is confinement, which we are in now, the second is a gradual easing of confinement, where the health system comes out of the emergency phase. And the third is the new normality, because we will have to live with new cultural and social habits to avoid new infections," the president said.
A return to people performing their non-essential work is the first step towards the country coming out of lockdown, according to Torra. Allowing people to go out for walks follows this, while the third step is the “progressive reopening” of non-essential businesses.
Schools and sports facilities reopening will come after that, and events will be the last part of a return to daily life.