Curfew ends Friday but other restrictions remain in place

Catalonia has not yet reached the peak of the sixth wave but "everything points to a slowdown"

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La Rambla empty during the curfew

BarcelonaAs of Friday there will no longer be a curfew in Catalonia, as announced this morning by Government spokesperson Patrícia Plaja. The decision was taken this Tuesday after evaluating the recommendations from the covid-19 commission. The curfew came into force on December 24 and, after receiving Catalonia's High Court's endorsement, the measure was extended until January 21. "We are convinced that the measures taken before the holidays have worked," said Plaja who, to justify the end of the curfew, which banned leaving the house between 1 am and 6 am, recalled that "it is a very invasive measure that violates a fundamental right." "It was very useful, but it is no longer useful," she added. The spokeswoman acknowledged that "there are still days to go before reaching the peak of this sixth wave", but stressed that "the most pessimistic forecasts for the growth of ICU admissions, fortunately, have not been fulfilled" and that "all the trends point to a slowdown".

The other restrictions in force, however, will be maintained at least for another week. This means no more than 10 people can gather either outdoors or indoors; nightlife venues are still not allowed to open; bars and restaurants are allowed 100% capacity outdoors but 50% indoors, and have to close at 00.30, although they have 30 minutes more to finish emptying the premises. Non-essential products stores have seen their maximum capacity limited to 70%, as have sporting and cultural events. Working from home is strongly encouraged, and he use of the covid pass to enter certain places, which had also been questioned, will remain in force.

The spokeswoman explained that "the Department of Economy is working on economic aid for nightlife, one of the most affected sectors", and said that it will be made public soon. Plaja insisted that "as soon as it is possible to reopen, without delay but without haste, we will".

As for schools, Plaja acknowledged that "Omicron is having an impact like never before", as is happening in the rest of society. She insisted, however, that schools "are safe". The spokeswoman also assured that if necessary, the current protocol will be modified again. "Protocols will be modified as many times as needed," she said.

In statements to Catalunya Ràdio, the head of epidemiology at the Hospital Clínic, Dr. Antoni Trilla, had called this morning for "prudence" and had demanded the Catalan government not to go further in easing restrictions measures. "It is prudent to maintain most of the current restrictions until the curve flattens because the first post-peak days are still complicated," warned Trilla.

In fact, the data is not favourable: the Department of Health has declared 48,307 new cases confirmed by PCR or antigen test in the last hours. As for hospitalised patients, there are 2,672 (55 more) and 529 in the ICU (seven more). Effective Potential Growth continues to rise (up 24 points), while the Rt is down two hundredths to 1.23. A total of 101 deaths have been reported.

As for the number of vaccinees, the figure continues to rise. A total of 6,420,480 first doses have been administered, 4,405 in the last 24 hours, and 5,582,409 second doses (up 7,942). Also, 2,655,634 third doses have already been administered (45,808 more). Seventy-seven percent of the population has already received the complete schedule and, if only those over 12 years of age are taken into account, the percentage rises to 85.5%.

Charities call for guaranteed access to antigen testing for vulnerable groups

On the other hand, this Tuesday, over 300 Catalan charities have published a joint statement to demand the Government ensure access to antigen tests for groups in vulnerable situations. They warn that people with few economic resources "are more exposed to infection and have no guaranteed access to antigen tests, despite the recent price regulation."

They also demand support measures for charities to cover the extra costs derived from covid. In fact, they denounce that in the middle of the sixth wave the Generalitat "has stopped the provision of protective material to charities that were still receiving and that the Department of Social Rights cannot guarantee the payment of cost overruns provided for in decree 29/2020".

In addition, charity representatives claim that the increase in sick leave is greatly straining the work teams and ask for replacements and "reinforcements" in order to maintain their activity.