The Catalan government has announced that the current Covid-19 measures in Catalonia will be maintained for another week. As the Procicat civil defence committee has decided this Friday, all of the measures currently in force will now be extended until February 28th, but one change is included: the resumption of extracurricular school activities, school sports and excursions at nursery and primary school levels.
One further change will also enable many children and young people to return to sports activities outside schools: activities run by the sport councils (Consells Esportius de Catalunya), which manage many youth sports, have finally been given the same treatment as federated sports, and those involved are thus able to train with more than 6 people and participate in competitions, which they have been demanding since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, a new semantic modification: the term "circus" is explicitly defined as a cultural event, so as to avoid any ambiguity - the situation for the circus sector does not change, as it was already authorized under the cultural activities permitted.
According to the acting Catalan executive, the decision is a response to an epidemiological context marked by a stagnation of indicators over the last few days - and even a slight rise in some measures, such as the Rt transmission index which is at 0.87, up from 0.83 a week ago. This, after days in which the different coronavirus curves had shown a steady decline. As a result of this apparent change of trend, the health authorities have opted to maintain a "cautious attitude", waiting to see the evolution of the data over the coming days.
Vergés: "We need seven more days"
Health minister Alba Vergés explained this Friday in a press conference with the acting vice-president, Pere Aragonès, from a CAP in the town of Salt, that the impact of the new coronavirus variants is one factor which is making them cautious. "We need seven more days to see the impact of the new variants. We are increasing testing to see how these variants affect the situation and whether they are causing a significant change in the trend."
Vergés reminded the public that the incidence of coronavirus in Catalonia has been declining in recent weeks but the situation in hospitals is still critical. This Friday there are still 2,026 patients admitted to hospital due to coronavirus infections and 613 people are in intensive care.
What are the current measures?
- Perimeter closure continues to apply at county (comarca) lines. Seven days a week. All entries and departures from this area are prohibited without justifiable reasons.
- Travel to second homes or to visit relatives or friends is not permitted if it means crossing county boundaries. Cultural events are not an excuse either.
- You can only leave your county to exercise or practice individual outdoor sports between two neighbouring municipalities, for travel to school or work (if distance working is not possible) and to return to your usual home.
- Curfew is maintained from 10pm to 6am seven days a week.
- Mobility for school groups is allowed as long as there is no overnight stay.
BARS AND RESTAURANTS
- Bars and restaurants is able to open in the morning and lunchtime timeslots as at present: 7:30-10:30am, and 1:00-4:30pm.
- In these time slots, the maximum capacity will be the same: 100% of usual maximum on terraces with space between tables, and 30% inside.
- Takeaway food can be prepared and sold throughout the day.
- A maximum of four people per table, except for cohabitation bubbles.
- Eating and drinking is only permitted at tables, not at the bar.
One of the hardest hit areas, which is still affected by the restrictions that have been in force in recent weeks:
- Shops and shopping centres of more than 400 m² will remain closed, except for those operating essential goods and services.
- Non-essential shops will remain closed at weekends: small retail stores (and in shopping centres) of less than 400 m²; as well as street markets. All these are only open from 6am to 9pm, Monday to Friday. Since February 8th, bookstores have been included as essential retail stores.
- Gambling centres (bingo halls, casinos and gambling rooms) are to remain closed.
- Gyms and sports facilities can open enclosed spaces to up to 30% of normal maximum capacity, and with a maximum of 6 people per activity. Masks compulsory. Open air facilities can operate at 50% of capacity, with groups of up to 6 people, and access control.
- Local competitions that give access to state competitions can operate.
- Pools can open to 30% of capacity.
- Federated sport, and Sports Council-regulated sport, can train in groups of up to 6 people and take part in competitions.
- Cinemas, theatres, auditoriums and concert halls can open for regular programming.
- Museums, libraries and exhibition halls may also open.
- Capacity must always be limited to 50% of normal maximum, with an absolute maximum of 500 people.
- If ventilation is optimal, this can be expanded to 1,000 people.
- Theory classes in universities must be held by virtual means and it is recommended that secondary education reduce face-to-face activity.
- First year university classes are able to hold some in-person classes.
- Face-to-face classes are allowed in infant and primary education centers and high schools.
- Extracurricular activities are allowed as long as they are carried out in the schools with the stable classroom bubble groups used by the schools. Other extracurricular activites are suspended.
- Regulated music and dance schools can open.
- Religious events and acts can be held at 30% of the normal maxmimum capacity.
- The absolute maximum number of people at an indoor event is 500, while those outdoors or with optimal ventilation have a maximum of 1,000.