The Basque Country will finally expand the interior capacity of hotels, cinemas and other venues, which have been restricted to 35% since the last decree of measures to control the expansion of the latest wave of the pandemic was approved at the end of July, which at that time it was at highs. This was decided this Monday by the crisis table of the health emergency in Euskadi, an organ called Labi and that had been postponing this de-escalation for at least three weeks when it appreciated that the drop in positivity was not enough and that the hospital pressure is still high.
The coronavirus crisis: maps and graphs of its evolution in the Basque Country
According to the new regulation, which is based on the scenario two of the three foreseen in the general panel of measures called Bizi Berri IV, the general reference for indoor occupancy will be 60%, although it will be reduced to 50% in spaces considered especially crowded or “intense social interaction.” In addition, the possibility that up to eight diners can sit at the same table in catering establishments will be announced. As for the First Division football stadiums, which had been at 20% in the first three days of the league despite the fact that the general regulations of the Ministry of Health allowed up to 40%, the door is now open for it to rise to 30 %. In that case, there would be around 6,000 spectators in Mendizorroza, 11,850 in Anoeta and 16,000 in San Mamés.
The Labi, as such, had not met since the end of July and this Monday was its thirty-second session, twelve in the first wave -with fewer powers due to a centralized state of alarm- and twenty in this second phase. started more than a year ago. After that session in July, the lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, also made it possible to see that the use of outdoor masks was hardening. However, a clearer wording was simply given to the regulations that have been in force since June and that exempt them from their mandatory use on public roads if there is sufficient interpersonal distance. Since then, there have been several meetings of the technical committee that advises him, a body coordinated by the adviser to the Lehendakari and former head of Human Rights Jonan Fernández. In the last three weeks, in their respective opinions, this group has been making it clear that it was not yet the time to take their foot off the brake.
In truth, the expansion of capacity approved this Monday had already been on the table for weeks. What’s more, the sector had been publicly pressing for it to be repealed. This time, not only the hospitality industry has raised its voice – accusing Labi of going on “vacation” while supposedly harming the economic interests of bars and restaurants in the middle of the summer season – but also film exhibitors, who at other times of the pandemic They have worked 50-60% and that they felt discriminated against for sharing regulation when spectators in their venues did not remove their masks at any time.
A 24% drop in weekly infections
How does the Basque Country arrive at this new phase? The incidence rate still marks values above 300 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days, a threshold that implies an orange alert due to high community transmission and which at the time was not expected to be exceeded in this wave due to the extension of the campaign vaccination. The scenario considered as epidemiologically acceptable is a rate of 60, values that have never been reached since a second health emergency was announced on August 15 of last year, which is still active.
Of course, there are now five consecutive weeks of fall in new infections (a period that in two of the previous waves has meant the entry of a new ascending cycle). Between Monday 23 and Sunday 29 August, the Basque Health Service (Osakidetza) reported 3,339 new COVID-19 infections, 24% less than in the previous seven days. They are equivalent to 32% of the peak of the last wave, reached at the end of June precisely when the measures reviewed this Monday by Labi were activated. However, there are two more indicators that do not end down with the same intensity. On the one hand, hospital admissions have fallen in the last week by 18%, from 338 to 280 and are equivalent to 74% of the maximum of this last cycle. On the other hand, the drop in positives is partly attributed to the decrease in diagnostic tests. In the last week the positivity remained at 8.7% and it is the first time that it has dropped below 10% this summer but it is still a value higher than the top of the waves that followed Christmas or Easter and, in addition , the initial objective is that it does not exceed 5% in any case.
In our interactive specials, you can consult all the data on the evolution of the pandemic in Euskadi, Over the positive and deceased in each and every one of the residences in Álava, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa and the advance day to day of the vaccination campaign. We also have maps with the most prominent shoots.