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Catalan chief calls on outbreak area residents to stay home after judge rejects lockdown

The leader of the Spanish region of Catalonia called on residents of an area that has seen a surge in coronavirus cases to stay at home, despite a ruling by a judge who threw out a mandatory lockdown order for the district of 160,000 people.

Reuters | Madrid | Updated: 13-07-2020 18:29 IST | Created: 13-07-2020 17:55 IST
Catalan chief calls on outbreak area residents to stay home after judge rejects lockdown
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI

The leader of the Spanish region of Catalonia called on residents of an area that has seen a surge in coronavirus cases to stay at home, despite a ruling by a judge who threw out a mandatory lockdown order for the district of 160,000 people. Spain, which has been one of the European countries worst affected by the coronavirus, lifted nationwide confinement last month when the pandemic seemed to have come under control.

But with dozens of new clusters, local authorities across Spain are scrambling to take new measures either to lock down small areas or make it mandatory to wear a mask in public. People in the vicinity of the Catalonia city of Lleida have been banned from leaving the area since July 4 because of a surge in cases there, except for specific reasons such as going to or from work. That travel ban will not be lifted.

But a judge ruled overnight that a move by regional authorities to also impose home confinement had gone too far and did not go through the right channels. Quim Torra, a Catalan separatist who is president of the regional government, said he could not accept such a ruling, and that he planned to approve a new decree to make confinement compulsory in Lleida.

"It's a luxury to lose time with legal resolutions. We cannot allow this," Torra told a news conference. In Lleida, where the streets were half empty and some of the shops and bars closed, people were angry about the uncertainty.

"They don't know what they're doing," said Anna, a bar manager. "It's one step forward and one step back ... and it's hurting our businesses, 100 percent." Since dropping to an average of 132 in June, the number of coronavirus cases diagnosed every day across Spain has begun to accelerate in July, reaching 333 on Friday. There are more than 100 active clusters, many of them Catalonia.

La Rioja, Navarra, Aragon, Andalusia, and Asturias regions plan to make it compulsory to wear face masks indoors and outdoors, authorities said, following a similar move in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and Extremadura. In the rest of the country, masks are compulsory when it is impossible to be at least 1.5 meters away from other people. Senior health ministry sources said the government had no plans to make them mandatory everywhere nationwide.

"If you walk the dog at 7 am and there is no one around it doesn't make much sense to wear a mask," one of the sources told reporters, adding that most outbreaks started in families and homes, weddings, and celebrations, rather than on the street.


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