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Catalan government backs down and lifts ban on visiting allotments

Authorities allow individuals to leave home to gather home-grown produce after thousands sign food sovereignty petition

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06 April 2020 02:16 PM

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ACN|Barcelona

People are now allowed to leave home to visit their allotments after the Catalan government made an about-turn on Sunday and gave into pressure to remove the restriction on tending plots and gathering food for home consumption.

The Civil Protection agency announced that going to allotments to gather food from them is now permitted "if necessary for subsistence," although people are only allowed to go alone and must comply with rules on "hygiene and social distancing."

The lifting of the restrictions also allows people to visit their allotments in order to tend to their animals, as well as those growing food as part of a professional activity. However, visiting allotments in second homes remains forbidden

The move by the authorities comes after thousands of people signed a petition that was launched last Thursday by a group of food sovereignty associations asking the authorities to withdraw the restriction.

Under the slogan 'Pels horts d’autoconsum en temps de confinament' (For allotments of home consumption in times of confinement), the petition gathered 17,000 signatures in the first 24 hours alone.

Ban on going to allotments, but not to supermarkets

The Catalan authorities had recognized the "incongruence" of banning people from leaving home to gather food from allotments while at the same time allowing them to go to supermarkets to buy food, but argued that making exceptions was too complex.

In fact, on Friday, the government spokesperson reiterated that the official restrictions on traveling to both urban and rural allotments outside of the home would be maintained unless it is part of a professional activity.

Yet, the petition's organizers remained defiant, and the movement's spokeswoman, Anaïs Sastre, insisted that "it's safer to go to the allotment than to the supermarket" and suggested the authorities had underestimated the importance of allotments in feeding the public.

The petitioners also suggested that the restriction on visiting allotments was not lawful because the terms of the state of alarm decreed by the state authorities allow the public to leave their homes in order to acquire food.

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  • A man in Lleida tends to his vegetable garden (by Salvador Miret)

  • A man in Lleida tends to his vegetable garden (by Salvador Miret)

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