Barcelona metro quiet at rush hour on second working day of state of alarm

Police are tackling people and establishments ignoring restrictions

Two people walking down a corridor connecting metro lines during the second working day of the state of alarm, March 17, 2020 (sent to ACN)
Two people walking down a corridor connecting metro lines during the second working day of the state of alarm, March 17, 2020 (sent to ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 17, 2020 01:37 PM

Rush hour on the Barcelona metro was much quieter this Tuesday morning.

Yesterday, the first working day since the declaration of a state of alarm across Spain, had seen crowding on lines 1 and 5 of the underground between 6am and 7am.

On the second day however, Barcelona public transport company TMB said that "with everyone's efforts" passenger numbers before 8am were down 73%, a bigger drop than yesterday’s fall of 65%. Similarly, while Monday saw the amount of commuters fall by 51% before 7am, Tuesday saw a 56% decrease for the same time period, compared to a typical Tuesday.

The Territory Minster Damià Calvet said a move towards "a confinement stage" was needed to prevent further coronavirus infections.

Speaking to Barcelona FM on Tuesday morning, he said scenes of crowds using the metro seen on Monday were "the opposite of what we want to achieve."

Calvet has imposed a reduction of between one and two thirds on public transport supply in Catalonia until Thursday. Operators are advising users not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

Calvet said it was "essential" that ports and airports were closed, which president Quim Torra requested the Spanish government to do last Friday. For the moment they are operating with a reduced service.

The territory minister said Catalonia had a decree ready to confine all but those working on essential services to their homes, but it had to be authorized by the Spanish government. "Only in a scenario of resticiting movement will we be able to cope with the emergency that we are experiencing," he emphasized.

Regarding Catalonia’s Rodalies commuter trains, operator Renfe said that there was a drastic reduction in demand and trains were traveling virtually empty.

Roads quiet

Traffic on some of Catalonia’s roads on Tuesday was down 67% due to movement restrictions, for example the Cadí Tunnel toll road in the north of the country, according to the Catalan Traffic Service on social networks.

Following the closure of land borders, however, traffic actually increased by 9.8% on the route towards La Jonquera and France, but traffic on the same road southwards decreased by 4.6%.

Police response

The Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, have filed more than 140 reports against people ignoring the confinement measures aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus covid-19.

Police spokesperson Josep Saumell said in a statement to Catalunya Ràdio, that the perpetrators were fined "for uncivic behavior."

Saumell said that the "vast majority of people and establishments are extremely compliant" with the measures decreed, but lamented that there were some exceptions. 

532 people were stopped by the police and their names taken, and some bars that were open were forced to close.