Catalan Government to remove almost all covid restrictions on Friday
Hospitality, culture and open-air sports will regain 100% of the permitted capacity
BarcelonaThe President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, announced this afternoon that from Friday on Catalonia "will take a giant step" to return to normality and "most of the restrictions still in force will be left behind". The President specified that universities, congresses, libraries and cultural events will now be able to have 100% capacity. Open-air sporting events will also return to 100% capacity, while those held in sports halls will have to remain at 80%. As for restaurants, in addition to ending the capacity limitations, they will recover their opening hours. The limitation of having a maximum of ten people per table and the distance between customers will also be abolished. As for nightlife, the restrictions will remain the same and a covid passport will be required to enter the premises.
However, "the use of the face mask will continue to be compulsory in the same places where it is currently compulsory", Aragonès insisted. The President also warned that "the pandemic has lost strength but has not ended" and that the lifting of these restrictions "cannot be synonymous with total relaxation". In his speech, he also encouraged those who have not yet been vaccinated to do so.
Less than 100 critically ill patients
The pressure on Catalan hospitals due to covid cases has been loosening since the summer. In July there were up to 570 critically ill patients admitted in ICUs. Since then, little by little, ICUs have been emptying, partly due to the decrease in the transmission of the virus and, above all, by the increase in vaccination. For the first time since 1 August, 2020, this trend has allowed the number of critical covid-19 patients to fall under 100 and has been located in 97, according to data from the Department of Health. The summer of last year, Catalonia had left behind the first wave and ignored that a new increase in cases was about to arrive and, therefore, the return of the restrictions. Lockdown had begun to ease during the month of May, which had allowed the entire population to leave the house, despite the fact that they were sticking to certain timetables. More than 7,300 PCRs were being performed daily and laboratories were rushing to analyse the results. In August 2020 there were 7.6% positive cases, above 5%, the threshold set by the WHO to consider that a country has the pandemic under control. On that day, 10 people died of covid and 481 new cases of the virus were confirmed.
Since that August, Catalonia has suffered four more waves of varying intensity and throughout this period there has been a clear turning point: the arrival of the vaccines. On 27 December last year, the vaccination of people living in care homes, which had been at the epicentre of the pandemic, began. Since then, the Department of Health has administered 5,930,950 first doses of the vaccine against covid-19 and 5,087,413 second doses. In parallel, 68,830 third doses have already been administered. The full schedule reaches a total of 5,800,482 people. Thus, 73.1% of the population of Catalonia has the full guideline and 74.8% has received the first dose. If we only take into account the population older than 12 -who can be vaccinated- 82% have the full guideline, while 83.8% have at least the first dose.
Improvements in all indicators
In addition to the number of critically ill patients, all indicators have improved in recent days. The transmission rate (R number) has decreased by four hundredths and now stands at 0.8: for every ten people infected, eight more are infected. The EPG is also decreasing to 43 (-4). 346 new PCR or AT confirmed infections have been reported, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 917,354. Regrettably, two deaths have been reported and the overall number of deaths is 23,936. Only 1.6% of tests in the last week have been positive. The cumulative incidence at 14 days went from 57.96 to 56.08, while at seven days it dropped from 24.37 to 23.08. As for the number of hospitalised cases, Health has declared 14 less in the last hours (344).