"It spooked me to think that after being so careful I'd catch it in a shop"

Queues and crowds in the centre of Barcelona on a Monday between Bank Holidays and with free movement between towns

The centre of Barcelona was bustling this Monday, to the point that mid-afternoon the police cut off the traffic on the Passeig de Gràcia section between Gran Via and Plaça Catalunya to facilitate movement. Today is a traditionally strong day for commerce, in the middle of the two bank holidays that kick off Christmas shopping, and, despite the restrictions, the crowds leave an image of full, overflowing streets, similar to those of yesteryear, were it not for all the facemasks.

"I arrived at four o'clock in the afternoon and I was already surprised that there was so much movement," explains Núria, who travelled from Abrera taking advantage of the fact that there are no restrictions to movement today and that "there are no fines," she confesses. She came, she explains, to return a piece of clothing but in the end she changed her mind because there were too many people and it was difficult to keep a safe distance. "It spooked me to think that after being so careful I'd catch it in a shop", she says as if apologising.

There are no staff to control the flow of customers in the shops. In the Apple store there are two men who regulate access to the establishment, where Sergi has gone to pick up his new iPhone, but seeing such a large queue for much of the afternoon, he waited around until the queue subsided. However, he says he will still have to wait for half an hour.

José and Lídia have also finally decided to queue up at a shop in Portal de l'Àngel, when there is still an hour to go before they close and after having been walking around the area and having ruled out entering other shops, precisely because of the queues. They haven't bought anything but don't want to go home empty handed.

All around them, it's all queues. In the most central shops, the waiting time is often over an hour, and the queues that form on the pavements mingle with the pedestrians. On Balmes street, almost from the height of Provença station, there are caravans of vehicles coming down to the city centre. And the bars offer scenes of a prepandemic world, with lively tables that in some cases even exceed the limit of four people per table.

The Guardia Urbana has also cut off traffic in Bergara with Balmes because the car park in Plaça Catalunya is full and they are trying to stop more cars from coming in until those inside come out, which is difficult to do due to traffic congestion, reports Efe.

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