The Catalan regional government is advising nearly 4 million metropolitan Barcelona residents to stay home unless strictly essential, banning more than 10 people from meeting and closing down cinemas, theaters and nightclubs.
The government amendment arrived on Friday, emptying the streets of Barcelona as COVID-19 cases massively soared in the Spanish city on Saturday.
Businesses lamented the lack of customers and many owners speculated that they could survive the second round of closings that destroy the usually busy tourist season, a time when many hoped to recover from the initial shutdown.
The current regulations come just about a month after Spain’s first lockdown ended, which saw the borders of the nation closed. More than 24,000 people have died from coronavirus in Spain.
The decision of the Catalan government that locations should stop trading affects some 267 cinema theater screens at 28 cinema theaters, representing €63 million ($71.2 million) in overall gross box office in 2019 – around 10 percent of the total for Spain, the fifth largest cinema theater market in Europe.
“The cinema closure is a disaster,” Camilo Tarrazón, president of the Catalan Exhibitors Union, said to a news portal.
The loss of cinemas could instantly deter distributors from opening their bigger films when these are needed to power up box office, he continued.
Approximately 60 percent of Catalonia ‘s film theaters reopened on June 26 with the city even hosting one of the world’s first on-site festivals, the BCN Film Fest, which attracted 8,000 audiences.
The rest of Catalonia’s movie theaters were expected to bow in time for the Aug. 7 release of the second installment of Santiago Segura’s comedy “Father There Is Only One.” by Sony Pictures early August.
The big question here is whether Barcelona’s mayors and hinterland cities can write an exception out of the Catalan government for cinema theatres. Or whether the threat of the government becoming a mandate to stay at home guidelines will come to pass as COVID-19 continues to resurge in Barcelona.