The president of the Government of Catalonia, Quim Torra, announced yesterday that Catalonia’s lockdown exit plan will be approved at an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Council following its validation by the PROCICAT technical committee. President Torra insisted that the Catalan government should manage the lifting of the lockdown in Catalonia because “each territory needs specific responses that are tailored to its reality, [and] we have a better understanding of our situation than the Spanish government does”.
The head of the Catalan executive made these points during a meeting yesterday morning with Prime Minister Sánchez and the presidents of Spain’s autonomous communities. During the videoconference, President Torra laid out Catalonia’s lockdown exit strategy, “the main lines of which were developed by Dr Oriol Mitjà in close collaboration with the Catalan Ministry of Health and in line with guiding principles proposed by the WHO”.
In a press briefing after the meeting, President Torra set out the 10 recommendations for the exit strategy proposed by the working group led by Dr Mitjà in collaboration with experts from the Catalan Ministry of Health. Following its validation by the PROCICAT technical committee, the plan will be approved by the Executive Council. The head of the government stressed that decisions would be made “according to the epidemiological situation, the capacity of the health system, and our ability to control the spread of infection”, adding that an epidemiological intelligence unit would be set up to monitor these parameters.
In response to questions from the media, Torra said that in yesterday’s meeting he had found PM Sánchez “much more cautious and a bit more open to dialogue” than in previous meetings. The head of the executive said almost all of the regional presidents had stressed that the lockdown should be lifted in a way that reflected the “different circumstances of each territory”.
The president said he had reservations about the plan announced by the PM on Saturday to allow children and teens to go outside starting on 27 April. Torra argued that it would make more sense to announce a specific date only when the conditions were right.
“We’re calling for extraordinary liquidity assistance”
The head of the government also said that during the meeting he had stressed the need for the central government to implement the economic and social measures that he requested in a previous videoconference meeting held on 22 March. The president said that the delay in moving forward with these measures “will undoubtedly make it harder to overcome the serious economic crisis we’re facing”.
Torra also stressed that “the cost of the crisis should be borne by the state, not by workers, the self-employed or entrepreneurs”. He called for a transfer of resources from the central government – “not only liquidity in the form of loans, but direct transfers” – emphasising that the coronavirus crisis should not lead to an increase in the debt of autonomous communities.
The president said that the €14bn for autonomous communities announced by PM Sánchez “isn’t what we’re asking for. We’re requesting extraordinary liquidity assistance, not what was already included in the plans for this year”.
Resumption of activity and reactivation
Torra said: “Out of a sense of responsibility, we’ve moved forward with our own economic strategy for improving the liquidity of workers and families.”
The president said the Catalan government is now working on the next stage, the resumption of activity and reactivation of the economy, noting that it would not be possible to return to business as usual until a vaccine was widely available. “We’re also working on the final stage – sketching out Catalonia’s future. […] It’s not a matter of reconstructing the past but of building futures.”