CORONAVIRUS

Catalan government eases coronavirus restrictions in Barcelona and Lleida

Gyms and cinemas may reopen in both areas, while strict confinement in Segriá area will be lifted

A field hospital for coronavirus patients in Lleida.
A field hospital for coronavirus patients in Lleida.Javier Martín

The Catalan government has begun to ease restrictions introduced in Barcelona city and parts of Lleida province in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, regional authorities lifted the confinement of the city of Lleida and another six municipalities of the comarca of Segrià in Lleida province – Alcarràs, Aitona, la Granja d’Escarp, Seròs, Soses and Torres de Segre. For the past 15 days, the nearly 158,000 residents in these municipalities have not been able to go outside the confined area, except for work.

We have been able to stabilize the curve in Lleida, but we have to be careful

The regional government has also allowed sidewalk cafes and restaurants to reopen at 50% capacity in the affected areas. Up until now, these establishments have only been able to open for delivery or pick-up. They must, however, still close by midnight. Stores will also be able to reopen at 50% capacity.

The Segriá comarca – a traditional administrative division in parts of Spain – has been one of the areas hardest hit by the surge in Covid-19 cases. Since June 17, when infections began to rise, a total of 3,781 cases have been detected.

Catalan health chief Alba Vergés said on Wednesday that the lockdown measures had led to a “downward trend” of new coronavirus cases. “We have been able to stabilize the curve in Lleida, but we have to be careful. The pressure on its health centers is very high. We cannot let our guard down with this situation,” she said.

Ban on cultural activities lifted

The Catalan government also lifted on Wednesday the ban on cultural and sports activities in Lleida province, the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, and the municipalities of Castelldefels and Gavà in Barcelona province.

The decision coincides with a ruling from the Catalan High Court, which vetoed the 15-day closure of cinemas and gyms ordered by the regional government. “Weighing up the interests in the conflict (health and economic) the proportionality of the complete closure of the establishments is not justified,” the court statement read. The court, however, did uphold the closure of nightclubs.

Under the new resolutions from Procicat, the organization coordinating the region’s response to the pandemic, ceremonies and religious events – previously limited to 10 people – will now be allowed to take place at 33% capacity.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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