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The Catalan government has issued a warning to the public following a significant rise in the incidence of coronavirus in Catalonia over the last 24 hours and has called on people to "avoid social activity as much as possible". "This could indicate that the trend is turning around again," said the presidency minister, Meritxell Budó, in the press conference following today's cabinet meeting. The rising figures could jeopardise the next step in the easing of the current restrictions, which is planned for next Monday.

Data released today has shown an increase in the Rt coronavirus transmission index as well as a rise in the number of deaths, a week after the start of de-escalation from Catalonia's second wave Covid restrictions and just prior to what will be a four-day holiday weekend for some. According to figures from the last 24 hours, the Rt rate has jumped from 0.78 to 0.84, after having remained almost static below 0.80 for the last two weeks.  

Budó: "This could be the the start of a new upward trend, so we have to all be very aware, because this depends on everyone."

Change in trend

"We are at risk of reaching 0.9 and if this trend carries on until Thursday of this week, in all probability we won't be able to move to phase two of the desescalation plan," warned Budó, who did not hide the executive's concern at today's data. According to the plan, a "persistent" Rt rate of between 0.9 and 1.0 means staying in the same phase. The decision on whether or not to allow the jump to phase two on December 7th will be taken on Thursday or Friday this week and the minister showed confidence that the move could still be made.   

However, she repeatedly mentioned the risk that "this data will shoot up" and make it impossible to plan for Christmas family gatherings, even on a reduced scale. “What we do over this holiday weekend could have consequences for Christmas,” she warned. And she recalled that municipal confinement remains in force throughout Catalan territory from this Friday morning until Monday, so that, even trips to second residences will not be possible if they require a change of municipality.

govern 1/XII aragonès budó / Jordi Bedmar

Catalan vice-president, Pere Aragonès, and minister Budó during the government meeting / Jordi Bedmarr


Budó also spoke about the meeting of Catalan political groups which has been called for this Friday to discuss issues surrounding the coming Catalan elections, set down for February 14th. She explained that the aim is for the parties to "examine and validate" the protocols prepared by the Catalan government and the Procicat civil protection committee to ensure that elections can be carried out safely, as well as protecting the democratic rights of political participation.

Budó: "On election day we need to have protocols to protect not just the voters but also those who will be working at the voting centres" 

The minister avoided going into an assessment on whether or not the elections should be postponed due to the pandemic. However, she recalled that it is the government that has the final say on whether or not to maintain the electoral calendar, but it will decide by listening to the parties.