LATEST: Catalonia orders closure of bars and restaurants to stop coronavirus spread

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LATEST: Catalonia orders closure of bars and restaurants to stop coronavirus spread
Photo: AFP

The Spanish region of Catalonia became the latest region to order new restrictions amid a surge of new diagnosed coronavirus cases.


The restrictions were approved by the Catalan government on Wednesday.

"The measures will come into force overnight Thursday to Friday and willremain in place for an initial 15 days," said interim regional leader Pere Aragones, describing the measure as "painful but necessary".

The measures which have yet to be unveiled fully will see the closure of bars and restaurants except to offer home delivery and takeaway food.

“The bars and restaurants will only be able to serve food for take away; consumption on the premises and terrazas is suspended,” he said identifying these spaces as the place where people lower their guard, remove their masks and interact.

The restrictions will also see partial closing of children playgrounds and parks and reduced capacity at shopping centres, gyms, cinemas and theatres.

Gyms will see their capacity reduced to 50 percent and only for those with prior bookings while cinemas and theatres will only be able to offer half the number of seats.

Shopping centres and shops of over 400 sq/m will only be allowed to welcome 30 percent of the number of customers at any one time.


Playgrounds will close at 8pm.

The Generalitat is also expected to recommend employees work from home where possible, according to a report in the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia, and to ask citizens to only make necessary journeys from home.

The measures are designed to “stop the curve”, he said and to avoid having to demand a total lockdown as was put in place during the nationwide state of alarm in March where residents across Spain were confined to their homes.  

The latest data for Catalonia published by the regional health authority showed that the cumulative incidence rate of the last 14 days had risen to 263 cases per 100,000 inhabitants posing “an extremely high risk” explained Aragonés.

This is far below the infection rate in Madrid where regional authorities have fought against a city wide confinement forcing the government to impose a State of Emergency on the capital.

Catalonia  initially struggled with a rise in infections as the second wave took hold over the summer, but appeared to get a handle on the situation after ordering people to stay home in Barcelona and other cities.

Although restrictions were eased after the outbreak was brought under control, the number of infections has once again risen sharply in recent days.   

"Action is needed today to avoid a full lockdown in the coming weeks," Aragones said.

"We have decided to apply restrictions where most people let their guard down," he said, acknowledging it would be "difficult for the restaurant sector".




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