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[infox] New measures in place in BARCELONA from July17th re: COVID-19 outbreaks

As of today July17th at noon there are new measures in place affecting Barcelona and the metropolitan area regarding the latest outbreaks of Covid-19.

Life in the city was "business as usual" on the surface albeit with stricter measures of prevention which makes for 'strange' situations: queuing at certain moments in certain places/shops -whereas we've never queued before for these-, limited capacity in tourist sites, restaurants, even the beach...etc.

A few days ago there was an outbreak in Hospitalet -which is next to Barcelona- and three of their districts had some extra measures implemented. At no time close to a lockdown though. As expected, the outbreak has expanded to neighbouring areas (the metropolitan area of Barcelona is very densely inhabited) so as of TODAY (Friday 17th at noon) there are new measures in place involving the whole metropolitan area, INCLUDING Barcelona.

Firstly let's make clear there is no lockdown. The new measures are divided between recommendations and prohibitions. Among the first, the recommendation to avoid unnecessary wanders or to keep distance and masks at all times, among the second the temporary closure of venues which normally congregate a large number of people such as museums, discos or theatres. Check more details here.

These measures will be in place for at least two weeks and then will be reviewed again adjusting to the evolution of the outbreaks.

Flights and public transportation are open and working -with the measures regarding social distance and capacity mentioned earlier.

If you were planning to visit and can postpone, do so. Not that you wouldn't be able to do "anything" but you'll be limited and some places/activities won't be available.

It's important to notice that, as in many other large destinations, the situation is not "critical" as it was in March. Indeed most of the positive patients are either asymptomatic or suffer mild episodes of COVID-19, but this doesn't mean we don't have some critical ones as well. Hospitals are coping well and resources are available when necessary.

Again. as we all know, this is a fluid situation and the above reflects the situation as of today. That could change for the better or the worst in the coming weeks. Yet no total lockdown as in March is expected to be in place for the forthcoming future.

Lastly to mention that if you "need" to come, and should you be caught in a worsening of the situation, you will be able to return home.

And no, I feel there's not a general "sense of scare" but rather concern. Still, here in Catalonia, we're mainly quite relaxed and it's very unlikely you'd encounter such extended paranoia and hysteria as seen in other parts of the world where fights over wearing or not a mask have erupted. Cool on the surface, concerned underneath, that seems to be the most common attitude among responsible residents.

Reminding everybody that wearing the mask is not only compulsory but also enforced by most in these shores. Don't be the a*hole not doing so, please.

Posted by
1801 posts

Thank you for the update. Like many here on the forum we will wait awhile longer before we make any concrete plans. Still researching, planning, and dreaming in the meantime for future.

Posted by
5759 posts

Nicely written update, Enric, very well done.

Interesting about some things closing back down. For example, discos have not yet been able to re-open at all here in France.

Posted by
2451 posts

Enric, appreciate your comprehensive report. Agree wholeheartedly- wear a mask, social distance & good hand hygiene. We miss Barcelona! In good health.

Posted by
2530 posts

@Barbara, sadly we're not the only destination facing these outbreaks again. I suppose this is something we all wanted to believe it had passed a tad too soon. Anyway, for planning, there are plenty of resources around and then this forum. Many -including me- are happy to contribute to someone else's planning when asked. And if you're planning to visit me here in Catalonia, believe me, there are tons of sites with info to look at (in fact, too many if you ask me!) which I am always happy to share with my fellow travellers.

@Kim, yes, I agree. I believe there's a very fine line to be walked at present: how to preserve the general health while preserving as well workplaces and means of subsistence. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes don't. It's a complex scenario. Having said that, from a professional point of view (I do strategy and planning) what bothers me is not necessarily getting it wrong as that can be re-addressed, it's rather inconsistency, incoordination and going about lurching without really knowing what to do. To top it up, here in Catalonia we have a further problem to deal with: the constant boycott from the Spanish state, from skimming budgets to the constant judicial hindering. But again, that's is another story.

@Janis, don't mention. I believe boots-on-the-ground are always useful during a crisis. I myself have benefited of local advice in the past on similarly tricky situations so if we all chip in when it's happening in our turf we all can benefit and better plan (avoiding unnecessary surprises and expenditures)

Posted by
44 posts

Many thanks, Enric. My 3rd week in Sept to Ibiza keeps getting less likely, but the important thing is to minimize the spread of covid with masks and separation.

Posted by
1124 posts

I honestly fear the cold and flu season and the possible spread of Covid. We will be missing our time in Portugal and Spain this September.
I hope the spike gets under control soon.

Posted by
107 posts

Enric, thank you as always you help all of us.
Do you know when Americans are allowed back into Spain?

We just returned to US after 5 months in Spain and can’t wait to come back. It was safer in Spain, it was easy to follow the rules and the US doesn’t understand its the way to get through this. Its not all about freedom, it’s important to care about each other. I miss the 8pm balcony applause for the health care workers.

Posted by
2530 posts

Nope sorry Sandy, but not in the foreseeable future I am afraid. Firstly, this is a common EU decision, not individual by each country so if and when borders are open again to US visitors will be agreed and announced at EU level. And then, there's the reciprocity issue... until the US doesn't open to EU visitors there won't be the same move here.

But overall, the main reason why borders will remain closed is the handling and evolution of the health pandemic in the US, without entering into politics, the perception among EU health ministers is that "the standards set in the US at present for this matter don't match those of the EU and consequently it's not safe to allow visitors from the US at present". Again, not my words, just quoting some statements recently appeared in euractiv.com (sort of your Politico or The Hill) regarding this matter.

Posted by
2530 posts

In all guys, all those that were planning to visit in these next few months start thinking on a plan B just in case. While no one knows how will this evolve, the forecast is bleak. I have no doubt these current outbreaks will be controlled pretty soon, but the fragility of the whole situation makes me think the limitations, restrictions and prohibitions will be in place for some time to come as outbreaks are bound to pop up from time to time. And depending on the seriousness, limitations might be greater, and then, you're not travelling on holiday to be "too limited" on what you can and can't do, right? Just reflecting.

Posted by
107 posts

Thanks Enric for the information. Yes, I agree on your comments. No question about it. We were there March 14. We are here in US and cannot believe the lack of leadership. Ok, keep me posted. I am going to begin the non lucrative visa process. My family roots are from Granada. Un saludo!

Posted by
2530 posts

By the way... it seems some tabloids in certain countries are pretty much saying "we're in lockdown". That's not true. While we do have some restrictions and recommendations in place, life goes on and we're not "locked down".

I am not sure if this is a cross-cultural misunderstanding or a purposed campaign to damage the tourism industry, but to us, "lockdown" means "locked at home, no one on the streets other than to buy food" (as it happened in March for some weeks) and that's not, by a long shot, the situation in Barcelona right now.

Currently, there are certain businesses that are not permitted to open (theatres and cinemas, museums, gyms among others) and certain rules for others (ie restaurants at 50% capacity and with social distancing measures, maximum nbr of customers at any given moment in a store also limited...). For the general population there are also certain mandatory rules in place (ie wearing masks in public places both indoors and outdoors, with exceptions) and then some general recommendations such as to "reduce unnecessary outside exposure" or to avoid "large gatherings" (but it's a recommendation, not an imposition).

This is to control the different outbreaks that have surfaced these past weeks but given the situation is not "out of control" (yet?) there are no mandatory restrictions regarding mobility.

Again, this is as of today July 22nd.

Posted by
4215 posts

Enric, I don't know what tabloids or which countries you're referring to but I have my suspicions. Certainly from what I've read in the UK there aren't any claims of a return to lockdown but rather concern that the infection rates are rising which could ultimately result in Spain being placed on the UK's list of countries requiring a 14 day quarantine period for those returning from the country, whether this will occur or not is likely to be determined this week.

I don't think the media is making a concerted effort to disrupt the Spanish tourist industry but rather they're more interested in sensational headlines and raising fears amongst the British public as peak holiday season approaches is what they revel in.

We're in a quandary. We're due to travel to Mallorca on the 2nd August for two weeks. If the UK government insists on a 14 day quarantine period on our return then we won't go. The problem is if that decision isn't made before we go it can easily be implemented whilst we're away if the situation continues to deteriorate which unfortunately I suspect it will. I'm afraid it's looking increasingly likely that we're going to cut our losses and not visit this summer.

Posted by
2530 posts

Hi JC
If it matters, it seems the major outbreaks here in Catalonia, in the Barcelona metro area and in Lleida, are commencing to recede: https://www.vilaweb.cat/noticies/dades-els-brots-de-barcelona-i-lhospitalet-de-llobregat-comencen-a-decreixer/ This is not to say we're there yet since the Ro (infection rate) is still a tad below 2 and to consider it controlled it should be below 1. For comparison, just eight weeks ago it was at 0,5 This, of course, is not indicative that it can't go up again.

Still, the Catalan government seems moderately optimist about the foreseeable future and is considering further changes on the measures taken, some towards permitting certain cultural events and some towards restricting "wee hour" entertainment. Apparently, the focus of infection now is among "younger" people, some of which are not respecting the safety measures.

Btw, some advice for those visiting Barcelona: https://www.barcelona.cat/covid19/en/lockdown-exit-strategy-city (yeah, focus on the important stuff and leave the embedded political cr*p typical of the populist major we've got now at the City Hall)

Now the major problem seems to be (again!) in Madrid and in the Valencia region where data shows an increase in infections.

Posted by
4215 posts

Hi Enric,

Whilst I acknowledge that the Balearics have some of the lowest infection rates in Spain it is not clear whether the UK government would insist that any quarantine requirement covers the whole of Spain or on a regional basis. It would seem easier to apply it on a national basis which would not be good news for us. Then you have the horrendous mess that is Heathrow at the moment (I don't know what Palma airport is like but judging by how it is on a good day I can only imagine how bad it must be right now). As we have several people relying on us to make a decision quickly we need to have it made by this weekend and I have to admit it all seems a lot more hassle and risk than I'm happy to take. The kids will have to make do with The Solent this year rather than The Med.

Posted by
2928 posts

While the rates may be going down in some places, overall, the daily rate of new cases for the entire country is on the rise. Aragon had 429 new cases since yesterday. Yesterday there were 730 reported new cases countrywide and today’s advisory has 971. This past Monday the number was 529 new cases and on June 28 there were only 118, so the number of new cases is increasing. Catalonia reported 16 new cases on June 18 and 182 in today’s advisory. Unfortunately, the daily advisory doesn’t break down the new cases by provinces within the regions.

https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/alertasActual/nCov-China/documentos/Actualizacion_169_COVID-19.pdf

Posted by
4215 posts

I was expecting it but BA have cancelled my flight to Barcelona mid September. I suspected that they might but I thought they might hold out a bit longer. Perhaps they're not as confident as the local authorities that the current infection rate will be brought under control by then.

Posted by
24651 posts

It was just zapped to my phone that BBC is reporting that all travelers returning to the UK from Spain or going to the UK from Spain will have to self isolate/quarantine for 14 days, starting tomorrow.

Posted by
2530 posts

Btw, I did not update anymore the post because it seemed a bit pointless given the current situation in the majority of the countries from which we received most of the tourism. When the situation clears out and borders are open again I'll certainly share with you whatever information i feel can be helpful.

Here in Catalonia, we're so-so. New measures are being put in place every week and most recently seems the figures regarding the speed of the transmission and the Ro are stable and even slightly descending -despite being yet far too high!

Among other measures, we've got now a "boundary confinement" during weekends to avoid unnecessary mobility, so one cannot travel to other municipalities unless a valid reason can be proven. This attempts to stop mobility for leisure purposes and thus contain potential spreading. The drawback on this measure here in Barcelona, where 1.7 million people live and the city surface (the "municipality") is not that big, is that you have lots of people out and about during the weekends (vast majority wearing masks though!) and at certain places and at certain times you can have quite a crowd (ie this past Sunday on the beaches of the city)

There are a number of voices talking about a semi-full lockdown (only out to school or to work and to buy essentials and food) to be implemented soon though and that could last two to four weeks. But again, as in everywhere else, there's a struggle to balance ensuring the health of the citizens while minimizing the damage to the economy. We'll see.

Anyhow, stay safe and see you soon.