Vice president under fire for 20-person meeting in France
Jordi Puigneró defends that local Covid restrictions were followed, despite contravening measures set by his own government in Catalonia
Catalonia’s vice president, Jordi Puigneró, has faced criticism for attending a lunch in France under conditions that go against Covid-19 measures that his government have set in Catalonia.
Some 20 people, including former president Carles Puigdemont along with some other pro-independence figures, met up in France without social distancing or using face masks.
Also present at the lunch were JxCat MP Joan Canadell, exiled MEP Toni Comín, former minister Lluís Puig, as well as Basque politician Jon Iñarritu.
Puigneró defended that the conditions of the lunch complied with the regulations set in France, where the events took place.
Without making statements in front of the camera but speaking in conversation with journalists, Puigneró explained that it was an outdoor meeting in vineyards and that the mask was removed at the time of the photograph.
The vice president admitted, however, that the controversial photograph taken at the meeting and shared online can lead to "confusion."
Puigneró also explained that he was asked for his covid passport to cross the border and defended that, at all times, the regulations were respected.
In Catalonia, pandemic measures currently in place stipulate that social meetings are capped at 10 people.
The Socialist party, Catalunya En Comú-Podem, and the People’s Party have all criticised the Junts per Catalunya figure in the parliament for having bypassed the restrictions imposed by his own government.
David Cid of CatECP considers that Catalan president Pere Aragonés must answer questions such as why primary care has collapsed again, why large-scale music festivals were allowed to be held in early July without social distancing, and why an "accelerated escalation" was planned.
Additionally, he has urged Aragonés to bring order to his government and called for them to take responsibility.
In the same vein, the Socialist MP Assumpta Escarp said that "it doesn't help at all" to see Puigneró "breaching" the rules, and she considered it a "serious political irresponsibility".
"We hope that the government setting an example is not a wish but a reality," she added.
Catalan health minister Josep Maria Argimon also weighed in on the controversy, saying “everyone has to abide by the rules, especially a political leader,” something that president Aragonès agreed with, saying that “we still have to live with Covid-19 measures so it's important that everybody, in all areas, complies with them.”