The coronavirus in Spain: How we’re dealing with it
March 13, 2020
Jeez, how quickly things change. We are now being asked not to leave our apartment except for essentials.
A week ago I was getting emails about the coronavirus, people worried for us, some wanting to know our plans, others ask for our advice on what they should do about their own travel plans. I was telling people to cancel their plans which was what this post was supposed to be about. It’s no longer about that, cancelling travel plans is a no-brainer now.
On Wednesday (2 days ago) we left Valencia. Up to that point there wasn’t much on the coronavirus. The city was gearing up for the Fallas festival, fireworks were going on every day in the main square (thousands upon thousands congregating to watch them). The only real sign of the coronavirus was the old age home across the street from where we were staying. 10 days ago seniors were in the park, playing pétanque or sitting on benches. A week later the doors of the old age home were closed, a sign on the door, no seniors to be seen outside.
Yesterday (Thursday) you could feel everything change in the news. Country after country was closing its borders. We learned Valencia had postponed Fallas (to July). Festivals and activities everywhere were being cancelled. Madrid closed down bars, restaurants, gyms.
For us, the biggest fear is being stuck with no place to go. We have no home anywhere. Luckily we had booked a very comfortable apartment in Leon. We asked our host if we could extend our stay. We have. We’ll be in Leon until early April.
Today government offices were closed when we walked around. There is a sense of worry in the air. The tourist office, open when we arrived 2 days ago, was closed with a sign on the door.
When we arrived back in the apartment a few hours ago we heard that the government had imposed a “state of alert” for 15 days. It’s not a “state of emergency” but does put some restrictions in place (to be detailed in the next few hours/day I’m sure).
How we’re dealing with the Coronavirus
We’ve talked over the last week, figuring out how to deal with it when the inevitable happened.
We wondered for a second whether we should cancel our Spanish plans and go home to Canada. But without a “home” in Canada it was a fleeting thought.
For those who don’t know, we’re planning on applying for the Spanish non-lucrative residence visa and we have been in Spain: 1) to find a city where we can see ourselves living in the future 2) to get some of the Spanish documents we need to start the application process.
Then we considered our health insurance, which is I think the most important thing to consider for anyone at this time. We signed up just 3 weeks ago with Spanish health insurance (one of the steps of the non-lucrativo). So we’ve got private coverage here and healthcare in Spain is good. On the other hand, we no longer have health coverage in Canada because we’ve been away from the country too long. Our Spanish coverage would work for us in Canada (up to 3 months) and in theory we can get our Canadian coverage back if we were there for 6 months.
Logic dictated that we’re better off in Spain. But even we didn’t think the “inevitable” would happen so quickly.
Update: What I understand from the “state of alarm” declared this afternoon is that we are in a state of strongly-suggested lockdown. We are only allowed essential outings (groceries, pharmacy, police). Only essential travel in Spain is allowed.
Our plans (??)
Theoretically we are supposed to fly to Canada sometime in April. We haven’t bought tickets yet and really have no idea IF we will be able to fly out. Imagine, all the above has happened in 2 days. Who knows what’s going to happen over the next 3 weeks…
We just received notice that all reservations to this apartment have been cancelled. Our host won’t kick us out, she’s allowing us to stay as long as needed. I think this was our major worry. I think the most important thing right now is for everyone to hunker down until at least things get clearer….
Another thing we did today was to register with the Canadian government as Canadians abroad. They now know where we are. I would recommend to anyone stuck in lockdown to do the same with their own government.
So for now until early April (at least) we’ll be mostly confined to our apartment. We found “Game of Thrones” on a pirate site and intend on splurging on it. I’ll catch up on some internet stuff. For those who’ve written us thank you. We’re ok 🙂
Update: Lockdown diary Tuesday March 17