Villages ask for flexibility in easing lockdown

In rural areas it is possible to remain isolated without being confined at home, argues the Association of Villages of Catalonia

Esterri d'Àneu in the Pyrenees, April 24, 2020 (by Marta Lluvich)
Esterri d'Àneu in the Pyrenees, April 24, 2020 (by Marta Lluvich) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 27, 2020 03:04 PM

Villages in Catalonia are asking the government for "specific measures" to plan a more flexible approach to the easing of lockdown in municipalities that are home to less than 500 people.

The isolation required to curb the spread of Covid-19 is possible without home confinement, according to Mario Urrea, the mayor of the village of Torrebesses and president of the Association of Villages of Catalonia (Associació de Micropobles de Catalunya). 

Urrea, whose organisation represents about 170 of the 330 villages in Catalonia with less than 500 inhabitants, believes that regulations should not be the same for cities with 100,000 inhabitants across 10 square kilometers, and villages of 200 residents in an area of ​​30 square kilometers.  

Urrea told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) that for him it does not make sense to limit walks to within one kilometer of people’s homes.

Children in rural villages can walk all day without meeting anyone, Urrea argues, while "on the other hand, in Barcelona you will find many children on the street."

Natural space

Mayors of isolated villages in the Pyrenees and Pre-Pyrenees are also arguing for special measures.

Anna Sentinella, mayor of Baix Pallars, population 300, emphasized that confinement measures have been adhered to up until now, but that the "particularities of each individual area should be taken into account" from now on, especially areas surrounded by the great outdoors. 

The mayor of Esterri d'Àneu, home to 750 people, is "very much in favor" of containment measures, insisting that people with second homes in the area should not travel there. But Pere Ticó argued that it was better for children to go for walks on the many paths that spread out from the village rather than for them all to be concentrated in the town center or in the town's gardens.

Similarly,  Cristina Barbens, the mayor of Bassella, where there are just over 200 residents, would be happy to allow people to walk along river and forest paths, as these are akin to parks and gardens in cities.

Barbens made it clear that social distancing should be observed at all times.