Roads busy and hotels open: Easter Week begins with the threat of the fourth wave

It is expected that a total of more than half a million vehicles leave Barcelona and the metropolitan area

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The Costa Brava

BarcelonaEaster 2020 was marked by total lockdown and, a year later, Easter arrives this Thursday at the gates of the fourth wave of the pandemic. Despite the threat of the virus, a lot of mobility is expected in Catalonia. There are two data that exemplify it: the Catalan Traffic Service estimates that between Thursday and Friday between 331,700 and 377,000 vehicles will leave the Barcelona area and that hotels in Girona area are between 60% and 80% full.

In fact, between Sunday and Monday, between 514,000 and 585,000 vehicles are expected to return to Barcelona and its metropolitan area -more than 414,000 vehicles already left Barcelona last weekend-. All this will make it difficult to circulate on the AP-7, the C-16, the C-17 and the roads to the Costa Brava -such as the N-II, the C-31 and the C-65-, and Costa Daurada, such as the N-340. In this second phase of Easter Week, the Catalan police - known as Mossos d'Esquadra - will mobilise 1,428 officers, which will establish 1,070 checkpoints on main and secondary roads.

In addition, the Mossos, along with local police, Civil Protection and rural agents, will also be deployed in natural parks to avoid crowds and the observance of covid restrictions. The Catalan Fire Department has made a statement appealing to caution and to do activities in nature "safely", and recommend planning, be well equipped and have a physical and mental condition appropriate to the level of activity. They also remind that there are restrictions in force, such as that you can not leave Catalonia and that mobility is allowed but only with members of the same bubble.

Unequal occupation across the territory: stable in Barcelona but rises in the Pyrenees and the Costa Brava

The forecasts are that most tourists will take advantage of the holiday period to escape from Barcelona, especially to the Costa Brava and the Pyrenees. Hotel reservations are not even throughout Catalonia: with international tourism closed, the hotels are practically empty in Barcelona, while bookings are increasing in Girona, Lleida and Tarragona.

According the general director of the Barcelona Hotel Guild, Manel Casals, only 25% of the city's hotel's are functioning, and they have hardly no customers. The manager of the Hotel and Tourism Inter-county Federation(FIHRT), Daniel Brasé, has also described the situation as uncertain, although he welcomes that "there are many reservations" in Terres de l'Ebre and Central Catalonia, especially rural accomodation.

Girona expects an occupation of between 60% and 80%, while in Tarragona, which depends on international tourism, the situation is more uncertain and are open 80% of the campsites and half of the apartments, but only 20% of the hotels. In the Lleida Pyrenees, nine out of ten beds are booked.

Vaccination tourism in the Pyrenees

In the Pirineu, in addition, the mayors have denounced "vaccine tourism", from other points in Catalonia. People are taking advantage of the Easter holidays to go and get vaccinated in the mountain regions. Raimón Monterde, mayor of Sort, told the ACN that it is "incomprehensible" that, on the one hand, mobility is limited and, on the other, mobility is "promoted in terms of vaccination". Monterde denounced this practice and said that a resident of Pallars "would never think" of going to Barcelona to get vaccinated. The president of the Consell del Pallars Sobirà, Carlos Isus, has asked the Health Department for a solution and has said that "the vaccines of the Pallars have to be for the people of the Pallars".

People who can get the vaccine receive an SMS on their mobile phone, with which they can make an appointment. People from the affected groups can also make an appointment even if they have not received the message. They do so through a website that offers them various days and times, and the various vaccination points available, some of which may be far from home. The website displays a menu with the fifty or so spaces available for vaccination that can be chosen, regardless of where the person lives, and are updated periodically, so if you do not find the desired option at the first attempt you can keep trying. The great interest in receiving an AstraZeneca vaccine meant that last week all the available slots in Barcelona and other populous areas were taken within a few hours, but there were still slots available in more remote areas.