Ministers report on the latest developments in the coronavirus outbreak and measures being taken by the Catalan government.

The Catalan government has adopted a series of measures to address health and economic challenges related to the coronavirus outbreak. The Minister of the Presidency and government spokesperson, Meritxell Budó, said a resolution has been adopted to allocate €80m from the Catalan government’s contingency fund to the Ministry of Health to cover emergency expenditures related to the health crisis. Minister Budó said: “The Catalan Ministry of Health is forecasting that we’ll have to spend €1.8bn just on tackling the coronavirus outbreak. The central government says they’ll give us an extraordinary provision of €50m. That means we’ll have no choice but to take a more flexible approach to the deficit margin set by the state.”

In response to questions from reporters, the spokesperson said the Catalan government’s budget for 2020 includes a €3bn increase in expenditures that will help support the response to the current crisis, and that under the new budget €900m will go directly to the Ministry of Health.

Minister Budó said that the Catalan Ministry for Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency is preparing a report on economic, health and legal measures that have been adopted in other European countries in order to observe and learn from the actions they are taking to tackle the pandemic.

Grants for the tourism sector

The Catalan government is studying a proposal from the Ministry of Business and Knowledge to establish a line of direct grants to support micro-enterprises in the tourism sector and a programme of subsidies, to be provided by the Consortium for Trade, Crafts and Fashion (CCAM), to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on this sector.

Action procedure for industrial activities

Minister Budó reported that the government has developed an action procedure to ensure that essential supply chain activities continue to function properly during the health crisis.

The government spokesperson criticised the Spanish government for having charged self-employed workers the monthly social security contribution for last month when “most have had no income in March”.

She also reiterated how critical it is that on 10 April the state pay unemployment benefits to all of the workers laid-off in recent days. Budó noted that two weeks ago the Catalan government established a financial aid programme that provides up to €2,000 to self-employed workers who can demonstrate a drastic reduction in their earnings due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Executive Council held its weekly meeting by videoconference on Tuesday morning. Catalan ministries reported on measures adopted to tackle the current health crisis, including social, economic, tax and business measures, as well as steps to prevent the spread of the disease and protect the public.

Update from the Catalan Minister of Home Affairs, Miquel Buch

  • Police are continuing to strictly enforce the stay-at-home order in effect.
  • 1400 Catalan regional police and 643 local officers are in quarantine, and a total of 219 officers have tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • Citizens need to “keep their guard up to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, maintain a safe distance from others, and use gloves and masks whenever possible”.

Update from the Catalan Minister of Health, Alba Vergés

  • Over 47,000 tests for coronavirus have been performed.
  • 1,652 people are hospitalised and in serious condition, but not all of these patients require intensive care or ventilators.
  • The number of cases will continue to rise in the coming days, and the health system is continuing to increase the number of ICU beds throughout Catalonia. 1,816 beds are currently available.
  • 506 patients with mild symptoms are being accommodated in hotels around Catalonia together with 214 health professionals who are providing them with medical care.
  • “The lockdown measures are essential to control and manage the pandemic. They’re the best way to help the health system.”
  • In Catalonia, nearly 5,000 people have recovered from Covid-19 and been discharged.