Catalan Government demands lockdown powers

No new measures are revealed, but government warns "restrictions will not be eased"

The Catalan Government is already considering tougher measures to combat coronavirus and, although the state of alert is now in place, it does not have enough room to decide freely which of these measures are appropriate. This was explained on Tuesday by government spokesperson Meritxell Budó at the press conference following the meeting of the executive council. She argued that in the current scenario of the pandemic's resurgence, Catalonia's powers to make decisions "falls short" despite the fact that they are greater than they were in March.

According to Budó, the Generalitat could not confine citizens to their homes without external authorisation. "If we were to take measures to restrict mobility, we would need either authorisation from the State government or a favourable ruling from the Catalan High Court of Justice", she lamented. Budó did not want to go into detail about what new measures will be taken to tackle the coronavirus, but he did anticipate what line they would take: "Restrictions will not be eased". "No scenario can ever be ruled out. Everything is on the table," she added.

Neither can the government force companies to implement teleworking with the current legislative framework, in order to reduce the number of people commuting. Thus, Budó attempted to put an end to the contradictions in which the Catalan executive has fallen in recent hours. For Budó, with the current regulations in hand, homeworking "is not mandatory but becomes companies' duty". This morning, the head of the Department for Work, Chakir el Homrani, claimed the opposite and hours later he still maintains it.

Government chaos: Department for work insists working from home is compulsory - president denies it

No "elbowing"

This is not the first time that the Generalitat has transmitted a certain amount of confusion when it comes to communicating its decisions or opinions, as in the case of working from home. This Tuesday, Budó was asked about the issue and admitted that if any citizen felt this was the case, it had to be corrected. "If the Government's communications have generated confusion, we cannot be satisfied," she conceded.

The management of the pandemic has also generated multiple episodes of tension between the government coalition partners, ERC and JxCat. Last Friday, for example, they did not agree on which of the two had considered it appropriate to request the application of the state of alarm and now it has happened again with the conflict over teleworking. Yesterday, the deputy general secretary of ERC, Marta Vilalta, even spoke of "elbowing" between parties. Today, Budó did not want to rub salt on the wound and assured that it was not discussed at the executive meeting: "Neither elbowing nor speculation. I have no record of them and we have not talked about them".

It is almost a month since Quim Torra was disqualified by the Supreme Court because of banners supporting jailed leaders. Budó has again criticised the decision of the judges, but has defended that the Government is going ahead in its daily management against Covid. "Despite not having a president we will manage the pandemic until elections can be held," she concluded.

67 million from the contingency fund

Controversies apart, the Government has announced a new money injection for some of the sectors most affected by the crisis. The most important decision has been to take 67 million from the contingency fund, which is always included in budgets to deal with emergencies, and devote it to different areas of education. For example, 15 million will go to the regional councils to help compensate companies that provide school lunch services. Apart from this item, the Government has also decided to set aside two million for shops in Barcelona and other tourist municipalities and 1.1 million for small and medium businesses.

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