The restrictions return to Catalonia. And of those that, if the Justice approves it, will limit the fundamental rights of citizenship. The Generalitat announced this Monday that it will ask the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) to return the night curfew in the municipalities with the highest incidence and the prohibition of meetings of more than 10 people. The intention of the Government is that the new limitations are already in force on Friday, Christmas Eve, and last a minimum of 15 days, that is, all the holidays.
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There is more. The Government has decided to close the discos and nightlife. The restrictions on capacity in bars and restaurants (50% indoors, 100% only on terraces are back) and shops, gyms, cinemas and theaters (70%). These limitations do not require judicial endorsement but the Government wants them to come into force on Friday as well. The new measures are in addition to the reintroduction from this Monday of the mandatory quarantine for all close contacts of positives, whether or not they are of the new omicron variant.
“The Government is aware of the social, emotional and economic impact of these measures on such important dates, but it is necessary to be realistic: we are worse than a year ago,” said the Government spokesperson, Patricia Plaja, at a press conference, accompanied by Minister of Health, Josep Maria Argimon, and the Secretary of Public Health, Carmen Cabezas.
The Government has not detailed which municipalities the curfew will be applied to or the incidence rate that it will use as a threshold to claim it. The TSJC already warned in summer that the curfew could not be generalized throughout the community, but limited to the municipalities with the greatest impact of the virus. If the incidence used in July is taken as a scale, 400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 7 days, now Barcelona (445.70), Girona (556.09) and Lleida (433.83) would enter the threshold, but not Tarragona (300.21).
“They are difficult but necessary measures”, remarked Argimon, who has emphasized the need to “reduce the inflammation of the contagion rates” due to its impact on the health system. “Many people will think that this is a never ending, but I assure you that this will end and we will go towards a new normal of living with the virus” has asserted the head of Health. However, Argimon has advocated not to suspend the Reyes parades.
The Government thus opts for a return to harsh measures after all restrictions disappeared after the summer. Until now, the only limitation was the COVID passport (which the majority of the population has thanks to the high vaccination rates) to enter restaurants, discos, gyms and residences.
The Generalitat has decided to adopt these restrictions two days after the meeting of the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, with all the regional leaders to study new measures against the advance of the sixth wave. Sánchez expressed his will that shared measures be adopted with the consensus of all the autonomous communities, but the Generalitat has chosen not to wait in the face of the unbridled advance of the pandemic. According to Argimon, the urgency responds to the fact that in a week the new positives have doubled.
The omicron variant has caused an explosion of infections, which is again noticeable in hospitalizations and admissions to the ICU, as well as in the saturation of Primary Care. In Catalonia, close contacts will no longer be tested if they do not have symptoms.
The new variant has caused the epidemic to progress uncontrollably in Catalonia, with a cumulative incidence at 14 days of 493 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, almost 25,000 new infections a week, and a mortality that grows with a dozen deaths per day. As of December 16, the cumulative incidence over seven days in Catalonia is 456.73 cases per 100,000 inhabitants (the previous week was 256.14).
Hospital pressure continues to increase: this Monday there are 1,280 hospitalized with COVID-19, 136 more than this Sunday, and the ICUs have added three new admitted, up to 310. The projections do not invite optimism either. The computational biology group BIOCOMSC, from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), estimates that Catalonia will end the year with around 400 people in the UCI, which could exceed half a thousand per Kings.
A year ago there were 326 admitted with COVID-19 in the ICUs of Catalan hospitals, a figure that rose to 333 on Christmas Day, but increased in January to a peak in that wave of 731 on February 2.