There is a mood which is becoming stronger and stronger in Lleida: people feel they are being treated as the Cinderella of Catalonia, and no-one has paid enough attention to the evolution of the coronavirus in the capital and the other municipalities in the Segrià region. People are concerned when they hear the director of the Spanish health emergencies centre, Fernando Simón, asserting that he would have preferred the Catalan authorities to have taken the decision to confine the Segrià earlier and no one explains why it was not done. They are concerned that the Catalan minister Alba Vergés ruled out lockdown in a press conference in Lleida on Friday afternoon and less than 24 hours later it was approved in Barcelona. The irritation has come to the surface, it is public and transversal, not against one administration or another, but against the public authorities in general as there is the impression that if this were not about Lleida, the fourth of Catalonia's four provinces, everything would have been done more carefully and more sensitively. Tact is surely what is missing with a territory that feels mistreated: and not in this particular situation but in general
Because there are serious doubts that the measures taken will end up providing a solution. Lleida's central shopping street Carrer Major, for example, was packed on Monday afternoon with people walking, sitting at terraces with social distancing measures that were highly debatable. In any case, they were not those recommended by the Catalan government which, on the other hand, are not complied with in many other places either. Meanwhile, the comments heard are that "this would not have happened in Girona", questioning whether the measure would have been applied in the same way in the most tourist-oriented areas of the country and "with Lleida they all do what they want". It is a feeling of public anger that needs to be brought to a halt early because otherwise there may be the circumstance that the outbreak is not sufficiently controlled and, in addition, there is a significant public protest, which has so far not happened anywhere. Sometimes you just need a spark to set things on fire.
A group with the name of Marea Blanca Lleida - White Tide Lleida - has called a pot-banging protest on Tuesday on balconies and in streets to demand that the Catalan and Spanish governments, as well as the Lleida city council, should stop putting the blame on the ordinary people. Marea Blanca also states that not only individual prevention measures are needed but also public, social and occupational health measures. Something we would all agree on. Some images, for example, of the seasonal farm workers on the streets without the slightest health protection, have been more than alarming. It's bad news that people are railing against the public authorities on an issue that also expresses many other things, including a certain disgust and the prelude to an economic crisis that will be hard. Meanwhile, the Arnau de Vilanova Lleida field hospital has come into service and the hospital itself has doubled the number of beds it has ready for coronavirus patients. And there is talk of the possibility of harsher, stay-home lockdowns as an another option for stopping Covid-19 outbreaks.
And the arguments return on whether to prioritize health or the economy. And the fear which many carry about the poverty that's ahead, in the face of those who with their authority want to make lockdown their only political response.