Spain’s Comunidad Valenciana has become the first region in the country to willingly decide it isn’t ready to enter the next phase of the country’s deconfinement plan.
The eastern autonomous community of 4.9 million inhabitants had been given the green light to enter Phase 2 on Monday May 25th but regional authorities believe it is best for it to remain in Phase 1 for another week after a slight rise in infections from 0.66 to 0.85 percent.
The region’s health minister Ana Barceló told Spanish news agency Europa Press that although “the data is good” and the Valencian territory is “in a good state epidemiologically speaking”, the Valencian Generalitat government prefer to be cautious.
Under Phase 2 larger gatherings – from ten to 15 people – would be allowed to take place and large commercial centres would open for shoppers, although social distancing and hygiene measures would still be maintained.
Valencia’s reaction is in stark contrast to that of regional authorities such as Madrid’s, whose president Díaz Ayuso plans to hold Spain’s national government legally accountable for not allowing the capital to enter Phase 1.
Catalonia’s regional government also requested on Monday that Barcelona’s metropolitan area be allowed to enter Phase 1, which allows social gatherings of up to 10 people and other measures.
Valencian health Minister Barceló’s take has instead been one of considerable caution since the lockdown started to be eased, having said on May 8th: “People are taking it too easy. It isn’t my perception as a minister, I walk to work and I see how there are groups of people who are not respecting social distancing, that’s the perception of the citizens as well. We all see it. I concerns me.”
Valencia’s Ministry of Universal and Public Health has indicated that 19 new positive cases of the coronavirus have been registered in the past 24 hours in the Valencian Community, five deaths related to Covid-19 (none in care homes) and 165 new discharges from hospital.
These figures do not coincide according to Europa Press with those provided by the Ministry of Health, which has recorded 22 positive cases confirmed by PCR tests and two deaths in the last 24 hours, although the total number of confirmed positive cases in the Valencia region since the pandemic began is the same: 10,949.