While celebrating the fact that it finally has a written plan from Pedro Sánchez's executive for the process of lifting the coronavirus lockdown, the Catalan government has this Wednesday voiced strong criticism of the proposal's territorial division of Catalonia into provinces, as well as the timetable that it contemplates. "It is reckless to say that in July we will enter a new normality," said the Catalan presidency minister, Meritxell Budó.
At the Catalan government's daily press conference, Budó warned that Sánchez's calendar for the process - which the Spanish PM said was "between six and eight weeks" - means that the "new normality" he speaks of will arrive at the beginning of summer holidays. This could lead to high concentrations of people in coastal or second residence areas, including parts of Catalonia where the epidemic has had less impact up till now, such as the Tarragona area.
"This is not about sticking to a calendar or running a race," warned health minister Alba Vergés, saying that it was risky to talk about dates.
The Catalan government also criticizes that the plan has been made "without taking Catalonia and the rest of the territories into account" including its "37 years of experience and knowledge from managing its own public health". Budó said the Spanish government had made a mistake in setting the province as the basic unit for the deconfinement.
She explained what she meant by referring to the varied geography of Barcelona province, which stretches from the sparsely-populated Pyrenees to the Barcelona metropolitan area: "What does the epidemiological situation of, say, the rural town of Berga have in common with that of Igualada or Barcelona city?" she asked. Another example she gave was that of the Cerdanya area, where imposing the provincial boundaries drawn up in 1833 would cut the community in half: "For what scientific reason can a resident of Bellver de Cerdanya travel to Lleida and yet not be able to go to nearby Puigcerdà?" she asked.
The executive affirms that Catalonia is not alone in this complaint and that there are other territories around the Spanish state which also demand "more rational boundaries, based on more appropriate territorial units". Budó mentioned the two Castiles and the Valencian Country.
As well, Catalan interior minister Miquel Buch, criticized the proposal's absence of "technical detail", or any explanation of how it will objectively use the key health indicators - which will supposedly be the basis for deciding when each area can pass to the next phase. In this regard, Buch condemned the fact that the scheme explicity gives the final say to the Spanish heath minister. "It gives us the sensation that the Spanish ministry might continue to make decisions based on its own discretion. We don't understand how that discretionary power can be kept alive and active," he alerted.