Catalonia will be locked down in 10 days’ unless the rate of infection decreases, the region’s president said today.
Mr Quim Torra said today that the next few days are “the most important of the summer”.
The political chief has dubbed the situation “critical” as he warned: “If we don’t correct this situation, we’ll have to take a step backwards.”
In a press address this morning, Mr Torra added: “It’s as if we’re in February now and I don’t want to go back to March. I don’t want to have to deal with 7,000 deaths again.”
He continued: “We’re facing the 10 most important days of this summer. Ten days to know if with a new collective effort we are capable of beginning to correct this situation.
“If we don’t we’ll have to go backwards.
“Everything depends on the next 10 days.”
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His comments raise the prospect of Catalonia’s 7.5 million inhabitants being made to remain inside their homes and being allowed to leave only for essentials like food and chemist runs.
Spain went into lockdown on March 15 after PM Pedro Sanchez declared a state of emergency.
Restrictions were gradually eased until the state of emergency ended on June 21.
Earlier this month, the country opened up to British and other European tourists for the first time since travel restrictions were imposed.
Children were kept cooped up at home till the start of May and adults were banned from doing sport outdoors in public for seven weeks during the strict national lockdown.
Since the state of emergency ended, regional lockdowns have been imposed in places like Lleida, one of the two parts of Catalonia along with Barcelona most affected by the spike of new coronavirus cases.
Torra’s warning about a new lockdown is the clearest sign yet that political chiefs are preparing to confine millions of people inside their homes in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
It comes less than 48 hours after thousands of British tourists discovered they would have to self-isolate on their return to the UK after Spain was removed from a quarantine ‘safe’ list.
The Spanish government is in talks with the British government about the possibility of creating air corridors for the Balearic Islands and the Canaries which would enable British tourists to continue enjoying holidays there without having to self-isolate on their return home.
Officials in the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol are also pushing to be allowed into a ‘safe’ travel bridge scheme.
Francisco Salado, President of the Provincial Council of Malaga and the Costa del Sol tourist board, claimed on Sunday the entire country was suffering the “failure” of the Catalan government to halt the outbreak.
Discos across Catalonia have been closed by regional governors in their fight to improve the health situation.
Bars and restaurants in the worst-affected areas, including Barcelona, have been ordered to close at midnight.
French PM Jean Castex has urged the country’s citizens to avoid travelling to Catalonia because of the health situation there.
Josep Maria Argimon, the secretary of Public Health of Catalonia, admitted last week that its health system was facing “critical days.”
He added: “We’re not in critical days like in March, when our hospital intensive care units were full.
“Now what’s critical is that people follow all the rules and guidelines to ensure the spread of the virus slows down.”