Fears of fourth Covid wave mount as Catalonia enters Easter holiday period
Increased mobility could lead to new spike in coronavirus contagion
Catalonia has entered the Easter holiday period amid fears that the expected increase in mobility and social interactions could lead to a new spike in coronavirus contagion.
With some European countries battling the third wave of the pandemic, Catalonia’s main tourist destinations expect mostly local visitors, who are allowed to travel with members of their social bubble.
From Thursday afternoon to Friday at 9 am, 206,256 vehicles left the Barcelona metropolitan area, in what is often called the ‘operació sortida’ — namely, the mass exit of cars at the onset of a holiday period.
"We had many cancelations, especially from France, our main client, because many regions there are under lockdown"
Carme Lloveras · Montecarlo hotel
The number of cars exiting Barcelona is 16.8% lower than the same period in 2019 (in 2020, Spain was under a total lockdown). The number of cars was 27.6% lower than two weeks ago, when the county-level lockdown was lifted after months of tight mobility restrictions.
In contrast, the airport of Barcelona was almost empty on Thursday, with 80% fewer flights than on a regular year.
Fewer French tourists at the northern coast
In the northern Alt Empordà county, including some seaside tourist hotspots like El Port de la Selva, Cadaqués, L’Escala or Llançà, only 30% of hotels have opened, which the sector blames on the lack of French tourists.
"We had many cancelations, especially from France, our main client, because many regions there are under lockdown," said Carme Lloveras, from the Montecarlo hotel in the seaside town of Roses.
According to Lloveras, 80% of tourists staying at the hotel used to be foreigners, mainly from France, but this Easter period they only account for 5% of the total.
600,000 coronavirus cases
The number of Covid-19 cases since the pandemic started surpassed 600,000 on Wednesday, and while new daily infections and hospitalizations are stable, the outbreak risk and transmission rate have been gradually increasing for two weeks straight.