The Catalan capital joined the rest of Spain in emerging from lockdown measures introduced to stem the spread of the coronavirus less than a month ago as the rate of infection slowed.
However with the nationwide caseload growing by 580 in a 24 hour period — the steepest daily increase for more than two months — officials in the region have told residents remaining indoors is “the best way to avoid a lockdown”.
The return to a restricted life for the city’s 5.57 million citizens comes as other European nations continue to ease their own lockdown measures — including the UK, where the government announced it would no longer call on people to work from home at the same time Barcelona’s officials were telling residents to stay put.
The province’s health chief Alba Verges urged residents to “respect” the new guidance, which includes limits on sports and cultural events.
“We recommend that people don’t move around if it’s not absolutely necessary,” she told a news conference, adding that nobody wanted to see a return to a policy of enforced total containment “even if it is the safest way to keep the virus at bay”.
Despite the restrictions on residents, museums will remain open in the city, which depends on its struggling tourism sector for 12 per cent of its economy.
Catalonia has been among the worst afflicted of the Spanish regions with 5,673 deaths related to the virus since the outbreak began — second only to the capital of Madrid, which has seen 8,439 fatalities related to the virus.
The province and its neighbouring region Aragon are understood to be a driving force behind the nation’s current spike in cases.
The nation emerged from a strict national lockdown on 21 June, but since then more than 170 clusters have sprung up — prompting regional authorities to impose a patchwork of local lockdowns and restrictions.
Additional reporting by Reuters.