With the Easter holidays over, the Procicat - this body that seems to have replaced the Catalan government for a year, which uses it as a shock-absorber for any criticism - has let us know that, from this Friday at zero hours, the authorization to travel throughout Catalan territory under certain conditions is terminated, and we return to confinement within each of Catalonia's 42 comarques - the territorial units that are roughly the equivalent of counties in Britain or the US. This will last, they say, until April 19th at least. A new step backwards from the relaxation of the pre-Easter measures, and a new debate open on their suitability, as well as on the permanent loosening and tightening of restrictions to try and control the expansion of the pandemic at a time when some indicators are again deteriorating daily, especially with regard to hospitals and ICUs, as was already foreseeable.
Although I have said it on more than one occasion, it is worth noting: confinement within counties is too drastic a measure, inequitable in terms of the territory we are talking about and terribly unfair to those counties with fewest inhabitants. The perspective of Barcelona, that of the capital, on the measures to be taken in the face of Covid expansion ends up having negative consequences in many of these districts, some of which could be avoided through a different political intervention. Too often it is forgotten that, for example, there are twenty counties with populations under 50,000. Or that the Pallars Sobirà and the Alta Ribagorça together add up to just a few hundred more than 10,000 inhabitants. Or that only seven counties have more than 200,000 inhabitants. The confinement by comarca does not have the same effect on the 2.3 million people who live in the Barcelonès as on the comarques that need visitors at the weekend.
It seems strange that there is no longer a commitment to more imaginative territorial models that correct the growing depopulation in many counties and serve to rebalance the different needs. For example, a solution would be perimeter closure based on the next-largest administrative unit, the vegueries, and perhaps, taking the eight such territorial units that exist in Catalonia, making nine or ten by dividing Barcelona into two - the capital and the rest - or, even, into three. Such a solution would not permanently punish, or would punish less, much of the Catalan territory.
If we add the bucket of cold water which prime minister Pedro Sánchez effectively delivered last Tuesday with his reduced forecasts for vaccination, forecasting that just over 30% of the Spanish population would be vaccinated in June, and the growing questions about vaccination with AstraZeneca - with the Spanish health ministry now having decided that it will only be administered to those over 60 - we are one step away from summer entering the zone of turbulence. For starters, thousands of businesses - and this time not just those in the restaurant guild - which have hired staff with an eye on the summer season, will have to rethink the situation. Someone should realize that, in the end, the public is so groggy that, above all, what is there is a sum of concern and irritation. And especially in this space that, pejoratively, is often referred to, from Barcelona, as comarques.