A key moment for de-escalation
Catalonia begins this Monday its peculiar 2021 tourist season. At least in the sense that restrictive measures for the entry of visitors to the State have been eased through a Ministry of Health decree, following the recommendations from the European Commission. It will no longer be necessary to have a negative PCR test result, until now mandatory. It will only be necessary to meet one of the following criteria: to have been vaccinated, to provide a negative antigen test result, to present the recovery certificate (having had covid and no longer being infectious) or to present a negative PCR test result. An important leap, and that could still improve during the good weather, which should make it more likely that government forecasts be met: a recovery of over 50% of the €20bn of tourist spending registered in 2019.
As well as easing restrictions for tourists, permission has been given for the celebration of festivals and graduation parties, as well as, for a few days now, the permission to attend sporting events. These experienced a turning point in Catalonia's MotoGP race, which was attended by nearly 20,000 fans at the Circuit de Catalunya: the largest attendance at a single event since March last year.
These are facts that reinforce the sensation of a definitive exit from the tunnel, that bring optimism to overcome at least what we have experienced so far of the pandemic. And we must celebrate it.
Especially because the vaccination data are very good. This Sunday, the 3m vaccinees mark was surpassed, representing 45.3% of the population over 16 and 38.6% of the total population. And close to 1.8 million people have been vaccinated with the full schedule, i.e. 26.5% of the population over 16 and 22.6% of the total population. The good pace will now be maintained with the vaccination of people aged 40-49, a fairly large segment of the population.
At the same time, however, we cannot let our guard down. This Sunday the ARA has witnessed that the laxity on both sides of the administrative border of La Jonquera is maximum: almost no vehicle is stopped to check that the occupants carry a negative PCR, and the hours with police presence are not very broad, precisely. There are people, on both sides, who are properly documented, but there are many who are not because they know there is no control. And not all of them come from the first 30 kilometers closest to the border, whose inhabitants have free mobility. Nothing suggests that from Monday onwards there will be stricter controls.
At the same time, and for the fifth consecutive weekend, thousands of people have been dispersed in Barcelona due to crowds partying in the streets without basic safety measures.
It would not go beyond this point if it were not for the fact that the Rt has remained stable at around 1 for too long. This means that transmission of the virus and new cases remain constant and do not decrease. Mask wearing and a preventive attitude continue to be great allies.