Catalonia Headquarters “Quiet” as Direct Rule Begins; Demonstrations Could Continue

Aerial view of Las Ramblas in Barcelona
Travel to Barcelona has fallen since the October 1 referendum. // Photo by peresanz/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Catalonia and Barcelona are reportedly “quiet” on the first work day since Spain moved to take control of the regional government in response to last week’s declaration of independence.

According to CNN, the Catalan Government’s headquarters seemed quiet at the start of Monday’s work day, the first day after Spain imposed direct rule, with a staff member telling CNN that everything is operating as normal. Spain’s state prosecutor is seeking charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds against Catalan leaders involved in the independence bid.

The BBC reports that the central government of Spain has invoked a provision of the Spanish Constitution allowing it to strip Catalonia of its authority and remove Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont from office. The move will replace as many as 150 of the region’s ministers, although some have vowed to keep working.

Impact on Travel

Thus far the State Department has not issued any travel warnings, advisories, or updates to its security information on Spain in response to the crisis.

The Foreign Office of the United Kingdom, however, is advising its citizens to avoid large gatherings and demonstrations that could take place as the crisis continues.

“There have been large gatherings of people in Barcelona and other areas of the Catalonia region in relation to the political developments there. Further gatherings and demonstrations are very likely to take place in the coming days,” the Foreign Office wrote on its website. “They may occur with little or no warning and even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can escalate and turn confrontational. You should exercise caution if you’re in the vicinity. Demonstrations may also cause some disruption and delays to transport services.”

Tourism organizations have started to see preliminary signs that the unrest is impacting interest in travel to Barcelona. AARP Travel reports that Spanish tourism association Exceltur has seen tourism activity drop by 15 percent since the October 1 referendum that precipitated the crisis. Similarly, ForwardKeys has reported that international flight booking to the region have fallen 17 percent year over year since the start of October.

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