Politics 28/01/2021

Health Department will test poll station members who request it

Catalan health authorities rule out administering vaccines due to lack of time and blame Spanish Ministry for lack of doses

3 min
The president of the table makes the opening of a polling station in the biscaïna locality of Durango, with all the security measures in the face of the pandemic of the coronavirus
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BarcelonaMaking members of poll stations feel safe has become the priority of the Government. Their role in the elections is key, since, if not enough people turn up - in spite of the fine that this entails -, there will be no elections. This Thursday the Generalitat has confirmed that it will offer all members of polling stations and the "first substitutes" to undergo an antigen test the days before February 14th. The goal is to identify in advance any possible infected so that the polling stations are as safe as possible. In total, the Health Department will offer to do 60,000 tests, but which will not be mandatory.

The measure has been explained this Thursday in the new meeting of the table of parties in which the Government and the political groups have addressed new measures to provide greater safety on election day. At the end of the meeting, the general secretary of Health, Marc Ramentol, has specified that the Government will contact the members of poll stations and in the days before the elections, between 9 and 12 February, will be given an appointment at their health centre to be tested. This will not be the only measure. Ramentol has also announced that the Generalitat will give poll station members FFP2 masks and not surgical masks that had initially planned, since the first offer a "superior protection".

The Health Department has also confirmed that it will give the members of poll stations individual protection equipment (EPI) so that they can wear them between 7 and 8 pm, when it has been recommended that those infected and close contacts go to vote. This was a commitment already made by the Government, but the novelty today has been that they will receive training on how to put it on by a health professional. This is municipal staff that until now already does similar tasks in care homes.

What the Generalitat will definitely not do is to vaccinate the members of the tables. In the first place, because there is not enough time. Between the two doses, 21 days have to pass and it would not be possible to receive both jabs before the vote. Secondly, because Ramentol has accused the Spanish Ministry of Health of not complying with the delivery of the agreed doses: "We have 40,000 doses less than those the Health Ministry had pledged to deliver".

Torrent i Solé participant en la trobada de la taula de partits, que finalment ha sigut telemàtica.

Will it be possible to go to rallies?

The second star topic of the meeting has been the controversy of the week: the fact that citizens can break the municipal confinement to attend rallies under the right of demonstration and political participation. In Thursday's meeting, the parties have assumed the general "commitment" to prioritise online events in which there is no physically audience and also ask people not to break the confinement to go to events where there may be public. That means only locals will be able to attend political rallies. "All parties will adapt their campaigns to the restrictions in force," said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernat Solé. Solé has also announced that on February 14 there will be a mobile app for people to know which polling station they should vote at and how many people there are, and thus be able to avoid rush hour

Measures aside, both Solé and Ramentol have insisted that the Cataln High Court's decision to cancel the electoral postponement for May 30 and reinstate February 14 elections is regretful, despite the decision not yet being final. Thus, the Govern has tried to strike a balance between two messages: holding the elections on February 14 "is not the most favorable scenario" and poll stations "will be safe spaces" .