Thursday 8th July 2021 – Compiled by MIKE SMITH
As infection spread continues to accelerate in the Comunidad Valenciana, the Generalitat has decided to impose a series of new restrictions across the region to combat it. The president of the regional government, Ximo Puig, has explained that “the pandemic has worsened. Nine days after the last restrictions, the virus forces us to take action. It forces us to stop the progressive opening”.
A meeting of the Interdepartmental Table for Prevention and Action against COVID-19 was brought forward by a week in response to the rapid change in the evolution of the pandemic in the region, despite the fact that the current restrictions are not due to expire until July 15th. Soon afterwards, Puig appeared at a press conference to announce the new measures.
In short, from midnight this Friday 9th July, it is proposed that bars and restaurants will have to close at 12.30am with a limit of ten people per table in exterior spaces, such as terraces, and six people per table inside the premises; no-one will be allowed to be served after midnight. It is also proposed that nightlife will be restricted again, with nightclubs and similar venues having to close at midnight and will only be able to function as a bar or restaurant.
The Generalitat is also asking the region’s Supreme Court for endorsement to impose a night curfew (1.00am to 6.00am) in the forty municipalities in the Comunidad Valenciana which show the highest infection spread (none of them are located in the Marina Alta) as well as restrict social and family gatherings in both public and private spaces to ten people unless all of the group live together in the same household.
In addition, in a bid to call a halt on illegal botellones, alcohol may not be sold in shops and supermarkets after 8.00pm whilst police patrols will be strengthened to prevent such gatherings occuring.
Subject to the publication of the Resolution from the regional government, these measures will come into force at midnight tomorrow Friday 9th July and remain in force until Sunday 25th July.
These new measures are a reaction to the very real fact that the 14-day IA rate, a measure of the spread of the virus through the population, has soared to 239 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a figure that is over 400% higher than it was two weeks ago when the Valencian region boasted one of the lowest rates in the country, and a figure that is nudging against the ‘Very High Risk’ level.
A so-called ‘fifth wave’ of infections is sweeping across much of the country, spread principally by young people, particularly those in the 20-29 age group in which the 14-day IA rate is more than 777 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the Comunidad Valenciana and more than 814 cases per 100,000 inhabitants across Spain. In at least four regions of the country, Valencia is one of them, the Delta variant is now the dominant strain of the virus.
The president explained that “we are in a situation that requires a response. We are going to give the most forceful and positive answer, understanding that it is a common effort”. He admitted that “we are at a worrying moment and we must be aware the situation through the arrival of the new strain is achieving a very worrying advance of the pandemic in some sectors of the population,” pointing the finger at the younger age groups who have not yet been vaccinated. “The increase in infections among young people forces us to act.”
As a consequence, Puig has already announced that vaccination for the 20-29 age group is to start at the beginning of August in a bid to contain an “explosion of infections among young people, which has doubled in ten days”.