Misc 02/12/2020

The Government will allow meetings of up to ten people over Christmas, including minors

Health Department will extend curfew until 1.30 am for Christmas

Mireia Esteve / Núria Orriols
4 min
Encesa dels llums de Nadal a Barcelona

BarcelonaFamily meetings and gatherings will be limited to ten people, including under-14s, over the Christmas period. These groups will be considered "stable Christmas bubbles" and, together with an extension of the curfew until 1.30 am, mark the measures the Catalan government will enforce over the holiday period, between December 24 and January 6. Restaurants will be allowed to serve tables occupied by a maximum of six people and stay open until 1.30am on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Otherwise, the current restrictions will be maintained: a maximum of four people per table with opening hours from 6 am to 9.30 pm.

According to the Health Department, Christmas will not depend on the plan set for the easing of restrictions. Even if Catalonia or certain areas do not meet the requirements set forth to go into phase three (which allows larger gatherings and travel), the executive will stick to the measures above. There is, however, still uncertainty about the restrictions on travel. Although in principle they would depend on pandemic indicators, the vicepresident and acting president Pere Aragonès has stated his intention to remove all restrictions on travel over Christmas.

What the executive does make clear is that meetings of more than two bubbles of coexistence will not be allowed. The Government asks the population to be careful and responsible and that gatherings over Christmas be within the same bubbles, preferably with "people with whom they already have a close contact such as parents, children, siblings or people who live near their home". In addition, after having studied the possibility of under-14s not being included as they are less likely to spread the disease, the Government has decided the ten-person maximum should apply to all groups, regardless of age.

Although it is recommended that you do not meet with family or friends who live far away or with whom you have not had contact for months, in the event that there is a member of the bubble with whom you do not have regular contact, the Government asks that you guarantee the physical distance of two metres between diners, maintain correct hand hygiene, use your mask when you are not drinking or eating and, above all, ventilate the spaces by opening the windows frequently. It is also advisable not to share eating utensils, to avoid smoking indoors and, above all, to take extreme precautions seven days before the meetings.

Families who visit or take in people who usually live in nursing homes during the holidays will have to be even more vigilant. The Generalitat assures that visits to the centres will be facilitated and extended, provided that the epidemiological indicators allow it, and that residents will be allowed to leave, especially on 24, 25, 26 and 31 December, as well as on 1, 5 and 6 January.

Curfew and religious ceremonies

The vice-president and acting president, Pere Aragonès, had already advanced this Wednesday in an appearance in Parliament that the Government will relax the night curfew in view of the New Year celebrations. He announced, in the plenary session of the chamber, that on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, night-time mobility will be allowed until 1.30 am, while on the night of the Epiphany, 5th January, it will be until 11 pm to facilitate commercial activity. At present, night-time confinement limits mobility to 10 pm.

On the other hand, all cultural activity will have to be carried out in an adapted way: only in places with access control to avoid crowding and prior registration, preferably outdoors and, if this is not possible and has to be done in an indoor space, a pre-assignment of seats will be necessary. The Government also prohibits Christmas fairs.

However, as far as religious events are concerned, the Generalitat limits attendance at masses and places of worship to the original phases plan: if for Christmas Catalonia remains in the first or second phase, only 30% of the capacity of the temples will be allowed to be used; if it reaches the third phase, however, a capacity of up to 50% will be authorised.

The upsurge of contagion will "mark the decisions" of the coming weeks

Aragonès has insisted that since the restrictions have been relaxed in recent days there has been the upsurge of infections that the Government anticipated: "The relaxation of the measures was associated with the management of a higher health risk," he said. In this sense, he explained that the EPG has gone up again to 210 and that this slight increase will be in the Government's mind and "mark the decisions" of the coming weeks. "Our priority is to save lives, and the situation will not improve until the bulk of the population is vaccinated," acknowledged Aragonès.

The vice-president has called for citizens to be responsible: "We have to avoid the end of the year becoming the seed of a third wave". The vice president called on people to "leave selfishness aside" and think about society as a whole. "Let's stop thinking about ourselves and think about the collective. No one is saved unless we are all saved," he added. Aragonès has committed himself to the preventive task of avoiding the transmission of the virus through mass screening and contact tracing. The aim, he said, is to reach Christmas "with the epidemic under control".

Aragonès has appeared in Parliament as he has done every two weeks since the state of alarm was approved, together with the Minister of the Presidency and spokesperson, Meritxell Budó, with whom the intervention has been divided to explain the measures of the executive to face the pandemic. Budó has assured that the Generalitat will apply its own measures no matter what the inter-territorial council of Health says for the whole State, which is also meeting this Wednesday to determine the plan for the end of the year. "The government of Catalonia is the one who decides in these areas", stated Aragonès in his speech.