Spain’s Catalonia to lift Covid curfew on Friday

Catalonia will on Friday January 21st lift a Covid-19 curfew imposed just before Christmas, but other social distancing measures will remain in force in the northern Spanish region.

Since December 23rd, it has been illegal to be outside between the hours of 1 am and 6 am in Barcelona. Photo: Angel García/AFP
Since December 23rd, it has been illegal to be outside between the hours of 1 am and 6 am in Barcelona. Photo: Angel García/AFP

“Restrictions on night-time movements will remain in place until January 21st. After that date, it will be possible to move around the streets of Catalonia as normal,” regional government spokeswoman Patricia Plaja said.

“We haven’t hit peak (infections) yet but the trend shows the sixth wave is slowing down,” she added.

The Covid infection rate in Catalonia, a region of 7.7 million inhabitants which relies heavily on tourism, is higher than the national average.

The percentage of Covid patients in intensive care stands at 44 percent (577 patients), nearly twice the national average of 24 percent.

Since December 23rd, it has been illegal to be outside between the hours of 1 am and 6 am in the regional capital, Barcelona, and other towns of more than 10,000 inhabitants.

While that measure is now being lifted, other coronavirus restrictions in Catalonia will remain in force, including halving the number of people allowed into bars and restaurants, shuttering night clubs and banning private gatherings of more than 10 individuals.

The region continues to be stricter than the capital, Madrid, in requiring the public to show a Covid vaccination certificate to enter bars and restaurants.

Spain has witnessed a surge in infections since December and prevalence is currently among the highest in Europe.

The country has one of the continent’s highest vaccination rates and 90.5 percent of over-12s are double-jabbed.

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Spain eases Covid entry for unvaccinated tourists

Spain on Saturday eased Covid entry rules for unvaccinated tourists from outside the European Union, in a boost for the key tourism sector ahead of the peak summer holidays.

Spain eases Covid entry for unvaccinated tourists

Until now travellers from outside the bloc — including Spain’s main tourism market Britain — could only enter with proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19.

But as of Saturday visitors from outside of the EU will also be allowed to enter Spain with a negative Covid test result, the transport ministry said in a statement.

PCR tests must be carried out in the 72 hours prior to departure to Spain or an antigen test 24 hours prior to departure.

Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto said the “new phase of the pandemic” meant the country was able to relax the rules by equating non-EU travellers with those of the bloc.

“This is excellent news, much awaited by the tourism sector, which will make it easier for tourists outside of Europe to visit us during the high season,” she added in the statement.

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from submitting any type of certificate.

With sunny beaches and a rich architectural heritage, Spain was the world’s second most visited country before the pandemic, with 83.5 million foreign visitors in 2019.

But international travel restrictions related to the pandemic brought Spain’s tourism sector to its knees in 2020 as it welcomed just 19 million tourists.

The figure rose to 31.1 million in 2021, far below the government forecast of 45 million arrivals.

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