High Court authorises 15-day extension of curfew
Mayors unsuccessfully request curfew continues in Palafrugell and Calonge i Sant Antoni
Catalonia's High Court has authorised a renewed 15-day curfew in 176 Catalan municipalities, as requested by the Generalitat. In the affected areas people will have to stay at home between 1 am and 6 pm. The restriction applies to towns with over 5,000 inhabitants that have an incidence equal to or greater than 250 infections per 100,000 inhabitants - the Generalitat tightened the criteria for maintaining the curfew in the maximum number of municipalities. It also includes some populations that are surrounded by towns with this high incidence. There are 25 municipalities that enter the list and fifteen where it would no longer apply thanks to improved indicators. However, there are towns like Palafrugell and Calonge i Sant Antoni (in Baix Empordà) which asked the curfew stay in place because it is a "fundamental" tool to avoid crowds.
The report the Public Health Agency has presented to the Court - dated August 3 - states that infections in Catalonia continue to decline but "community transmission is still not under control". This can "exceed the response capabilities of the health system". The 15-29 age group was hardest hit at first, but it has spread to all ages and affects all the over-70s, which are the most vulnerable and those who require most care. In addition, according to the Health Department, gatherings are the "main factor" that favours the community transmission.
"Very high pressure" in the CAP and hospitals
The department reviews different indicators of the evolution of the pandemic, and notes admissions to ICU have decreased by 5% in one week, but deaths have increased by 83% in seven days. In this sense, he adds that there have been infections in people with the full vaccination schedule, and that there are still health workers on sick leave due to symptoms compatible with covid. In fact, according to data from the Public Health Agency, on July 29 there were 1,405 professionals on sick leave, 70% more than on July 7 (827).
The Health Department stresses that the affectation in the different levels of care is "stable", but there are still "very high levels of pressure", especially in primary care, regular hospitalizations and ICU patients, which do not allow centres to recover their ordinary activities.
As for vaccination, the report notes that on August 1, about 58% of Catalans over 16 years had been double jabbed; this still remains far off the 85%-90% target.
Given the figures presented by the Health System, the High Court concludes that the situation is of "imminent and serious risk", especially due to the delta variant, which is dominant in Catalonia and also infects people who have received the full vaccination schedule. The court believes the current restrictions have been "effective" as incidence has declined since they came into force, and therefore accepts the extension requested by the Government- This includes maintaining the curfew in 176 municipalities and limit on gatherings to a maximum of ten people.
Palafrugell and Calonge, without tools to avoid crowds
In fact, Palafrugell and Calonge i Sant Antoni, in Baix Empordà, had asked to maintain curfew but have been left out of the list the Government presented. The mayors of both towns consider it a "fundamental" tool to avoid crowds, especially on the beaches. The City Council of Palafrugell has approved a government proposal to extend the curfew, according to ACN. The mayor, Josep Piferrer, said in a statement that the removal of the curfew, given current data transmission, comes "at the highest point of tourist occupation." "Our municipality has 23,000 inhabitants, but currently we may reach about 90,000 on weekends, and curfew is a fundamental tool that facilitates the task of avoiding large difficult-to-control crowds in beach areas," remarked Piferrer, who argues that not having the curfew can create "great difficulties".
The City Council of Palafrugell has already asked for reinforcements to control the crowds. The mayor stresses that in recent weeks the local police has been "overwhelmed" controlling people who did not comply with the curfew and now expects a more revellers to come from neighbouring towns where there is a curfew in place. The mayor of Calonge i Sant Antoni, Jordi Soler, has similar fears: "I think this decision may pose a risk and attract people, since the most populous and touristic municipalities adjacent to Calonge i Sant Antoni, such as Castell-Platja d'Aro, Palamós and Santa Cristina d'Aro, have kept the curfew". Soler explains that he made a request to the Generalitat, but it was turned down, and says that "it is a disappointment".