Shopping centres will be able to open on weekdays

However, restrictions on the hospitality industry are maintained

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The shopping center La Isla Diagonal, in Barcelona, last January.

BarcelonaShopping centres will be able to reopen from Monday on, after being almost two months closed due to the restrictions against the pandemic. This has been announced by the Minister of Health, Alba Vergés, who has also pointed out that the shops of more than 400 square meters will be able to raise their blinds, however, limiting the surface of attention to the public to 400 square meters.

As for sports, the capacity of indoor group activities is expanded and may reach 30%, provided that ventilation is adequate, and swimming pools may allow the entry of up to 50% of the maximum number of spots. Likewise, in the school environment, it will be possible to make trips with overnight stays, "as long as they are done with the same class support group", according to Vergés. The Minister also announced that work is being done to recover face-to-face classes in universities from March 8.

During the press conference, Vergés also analyzed the epidemiological data. "We are in a stable situation but with a very high occupation of critical beds", she warned. Thus, it is expected that the next few days the number of infections remains stable, but the problem is that ICUs are still very full: as of February 25, there are 569 critically ill patients of covid and 422 of other pathologies. Before the pandemic, Catalonia had just over 600 ICU beds in total.

"If there were now an upsurge of cases, the new admissions would be added to the current ones and we could reach very high figures, which would force to deprogram non-covid care activity", warned Vergés, who has insisted on maintaining the measures to prevent contagion.

Two months with the blinds down

Establishments over 400 square meters and shopping centres, which had been closed since January 7, may open again, only from Monday to Friday and with only 30% of the capacity, as the rest of the non-essential shops. From the Catalan delegation of the Spanish Association of Shopping Centers (AECC) the end of the closure is seen as good news. Although they could open during the Christmas campaign, the sector was already dragging the restrictions of the second wave, and at that time they had denounced that the measures had cut Black Friday promotions.

Indeed, the AECC took stock on Thursday of the losses that the sector recorded in 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic. The sales of these establishments fell by 29%, to 33,392 million euros, and the influx of visitors plummeted by 34%, according to data compiled by the same employer. "We hope that in the second half, from the summer on, there will be some recovery, but everything will depend on the evolution of the pandemic", said the president of the entity, Eduardo Ceballos.