Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Barcelona. | NACHO DOCE


Catalonia on Thursday removed some pandemic restrictions, allowing gyms to reopen and people to move outside their municipalities after infections and hospital admissions started to edge down.

The average number of cases per 100,000 people in the region fell to 494 on Wednesday, down from 589 a week ago and a peak of over 620 in mid-January.
"We believe we are leaving behind the maximum peak of the third wave," Catalan health secretary general Marc Ramentol told a news conference. But he warned there were still serious threats from new virus variants, intense pressure on hospitals and a slow vaccination roll-out.

Starting on Monday for an initial 14-day period, bars and restaurants will be able to serve customers for one more hour during breakfast and lunch, while for the rest of the day they will still have to offer take-away only.
A lockdown that stopped people from leaving their municipalities, except for work or health reasons, will be eased slightly.

Gyms, which had been shut for a month, will be allowed to open at 30% capacity, and some first-year university courses will be done in-person.
But Catalonia is still the second worst-hit region in Spain, and many other restrictions in place since early January will remain.

Large shops and malls will remain closed while most non-essential small shops will only be allowed to open from Monday to Friday. A 10 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew remains in place.
The nationwide incidence of the virus is also edging down, but Spain still has the world's third-highest number of daily infections, according to a Reuters tally.