Barcelona, Spain, Jul 18 (efe-epa).- Around four million people in Barcelona and its surrounding area started 15 days of a second shutdown on Saturday after a resurgence of Covid-19 infections.
Local authorities reimposed restrictions after a rise in the number of fresh cases over the past week.
The regional government announced the measures on Friday, asking people not to leave their houses apart for essential reasons and not to travel to second homes.
Social gatherings have also been limited to no more than 10 people and restaurants and bars have had their capacity capped at 50 percent while night clubs, cinemas, theaters and gyms have been ordered to close.
Spanish health minister Salvador Illa said in a radio interview that although there are local infections in the region, the situation cannot be classified as a new wave of Covid-19.
“In Barcelona there is community transmission, that’s how it is, we have to say it,” he added.
He said difficulties in tracking people who have had contact with live cases and tracing infections to specific small centers required social distancing measures.
Barcelona and its metropolitan region is the most populated area in Catalonia and almost 70 percent of new cases diagnosed in the region have been there.
On Friday regional health authorities reported 1,293 new cases in the region from the previous 24 hours, 884 of which were detected in Barcelona’s metropolitan area, one of Spain’s hardest-hit regions during the height of the pandemic.
There have been more than 80,700 cases in Catalonia since the start of the pandemic, according to official figures.
The restrictions will also apply to the city of Lleida. Measures were already put in place in the city of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, the second-largest in Catalonia, earlier this week.
Certain areas of the north-eastern Spanish region of Aragon, which neighbors Catalonia, have also implemented fresh restrictions to contain a recent outbreak of Covid-19.
The cities of Zaragoza and Huesca reimposed restrictions after 272 new cases were detected Thursday.
Authorities in Aragon have also ordered the extermination of almost 92,000 mink on a fur farm after 87 percent of the animals tested positive and a number of workers contracted coronavirus.
Spain has been one of Europe’s worst-affected countries by Covid-19, with over 250,000 infections and around 28,000 deaths.
The country has slowly reopened its economy since 21 June in a bid to salvage what remains of the summer tourist season. EFE-EPA