Spain’s Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said on Wednesday a resurgence in coronavirus cases in Catalonia was coming under control and she hoped there would be no need for France to close the border.
Tourism accounts for about 12% of Spain’s economic output and with the pandemic wreaking havoc on the summer season ministers in Madrid have voiced concern after French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Sunday did not rule out closing the border.
“With the latest data we have in Aragon and Catalonia we are a bit more optimistic. Catalonia has already reduced the number of infections over the last three days,” Maroto told an event organised by Europa Press news agency.
“Let’s hope that with this better data we don’t have to close a border that for us is very important for mobility with our European partners.”
Catalonia’s regional capital Barcelona has cut the number of people allowed onto the city’s beaches after crowds flocked to the seaside at the weekend despite advice to stay home to curb a local rise in COVID-19 infections.
The wealthy northeastern region, which borders France, has been at the heart of a rebound in coronavirus cases since Spain lifted a nationwide lockdown one month ago, with almost 7,000 new cases, nearly half of those nationwide in the last 14 days, Health Ministry data shows.
Catalonia registered 63 new cases on Tuesday, 70 on Monday and 994 on Sunday, down from a peak of 1,226 on Saturday.
Health Minister Salvador Illa told parliament there are 224 active coronavirus clusters in Spain, mostly linked to parties, family events and fruit harvesting.
He said the situation in Catalonia and Aragon was worrying: “We shouldn’t be afraid of the virus but we also shouldn’t lose respect for it,” Illa told lawmakers.