The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 32
Tuesday Apr 14, 2020.
It was exactly a month ago that the lockdown started in Spain. On March 13 the government declared a State of Alarm, the next day we started the lockdown.
Since then our only outings have been to the grocery store which is 3 minutes down the street. We usually do a big shopping, which lasts us about 5 days. So, based on that, we’ve probably left the house 5 or 6 times over the last 32 days, each time for an average of about 30 minutes.
Spain has the strictest lockdown measures in Europe. Most countries allow people to go out for exercise. Not here. I think being constantly indoors is the hardest part of the lockdown (I’ll write more on our personal situation further below).
Since my last lockdown diary on March 31st (day 18), the lockdown – which was supposed to end April 12th – was extended to April 26. We’re 99% sure that the lockdown will be extended into May.
But we’re getting closer to the end. The latest numbers here are 172,541 infected and 18,056 dead, but the number of dying on a daily basis is getting lower (567 in the last 24 hours) as is the number getting infected every day. Yesterday, after 2 weeks off, non-essential workers were allowed back to work. The construction site outside our window is now busy with cranes and construction workers. We actually like it, despite them waking us up at 8am. It’s proof that there’s life out there (which hasn’t been obvious. Streets have been eerily quiet). With some people going back to work, we hear that police are giving out millions of masks around the country, usually at train, metro and bus stations. All good signs.
BIG NEWS. Last week I wrote about how the Coronavirus will change the way we all travel. The last few days have given us glimpses of changes to come. Over the weekend French president Macron was talking about closing the external borders of the Schengen Area and the Schengen Associated States until September. It’s not yet a done deal but I’m expecting it – or something similar – will be adopted. It would mean that Europe would effectively be shut to foreigners from outside Europe for the whole summer. So if you’re still thinking of a European vacation this year I’d suggest you change your plans.
I also find it interesting reading news on how different countries are/will proceed once lockdown ends. Austria today started allowing small stores to open. They’ll be looking to gradually open up larger stores with time. Germany is due to re-open in 5 days and they’ve started talking about upcoming changes on the news. Masks for example will be mandatory in public spaces. They’ll be limits on public gatherings. Border controls will be relaxed and stores, school and restaurants will re-open.
That’s all good news.
France and Italy will only re-open in May. Spain, as I say, is due to re-open April 26 but I’m sure we will be extended to May as well.
It’ll be interesting to see what policies all will be put in place because they’ll all have an impact on movement/travel for at least the short term. I’m also curious to see if internal borders between countries in the Schengen get back to normal. Right now many countries have strict border controls with other Schengen member states (see here for more details). Macron has already said that maintaining these borders might bring the death of Schengen and to the borderless Europe we’ve known the last 25 years.
Overseas, The US now is leading the world in both infections and deaths. The UK will lead Europe in the same statistics within 1-2 weeks and its leader was the first to be hospitalized. A few people told me they were offended a few weeks back when I mentioned that leadership in both countries were handling the situation badly. I would suggest that instead of being offended, people should read the news. I don’t make up this stuff.
Our personal situation going on a month in lockdown…
For us the hardest thing has been not been able to go outdoors. We have a nice, spacious apartment with everything we need – but no balcony. We have several windows facing a courtyard but don’t get any direct sunlight. So we’re light deprived. It’s maybe why our hours are so screwed up. Despite really trying to sleep regular hours we’re finding ourselves falling asleep around 6 am and waking up around 1 pm. We can’t fall asleep when we want to and when awake we’re always feeling tired. We’re completely screwed up.
I wonder if other people are having a problem with their scheduling under lockdown?
But compared to a lot of people we have it good. I can’t imagine owning a restaurant, bar or store right now, being a cash-strapped bar/restaurant worker suddenly without a job, or being in lockdown in a small apartment with 5 family members. There’s a lot of people going through really difficult times.
One of the things that’s really helped us travelling full-time for almost 6 years now has been all the time spent together. Many times that’s been in really tight quarters (in Japan we stayed 7 weeks in rooms the size of closets). So for us being in lockdown together isn’t an issue. I mention that because with most of the world in lockdown there’s been a huge spike in domestic violence all over.
Most readers know we came to Spain with the idea of finding ourselves a base and working towards permanent residency. Before coming to Spain I wrote a post on that and on the places that we were considering as a possible base.
It’s funny that we saw all the cities listed in that post and then got locked down in the last one on the list. In fact, we’ve barely explored Leon – we had one full day here before the lockdown came into effect.
But the coronavirus has made a few things clearer for us, on the other hand it’s also confused a few things.
- We knew that we had to work on getting a base, that we can’t be travelling full-time forever. First of all, we’re not getting any younger. Secondly, we want to put down roots somewhere. I think getting locked down in an apartment that’s not our own, in a city we don’t know, has cemented our decision towards getting a long-term base.
- Full-time travel, although at times challenging, has been great over the last 6 years. It’s obvious now – at least for the short-term – that maintaining that lifestyle would be much more complicated with what’s going on around the world.
- After having visited all 6 places on that list, one city stood out as a potential base. Now, with the Coronavirus, we’re re-evaluating that. I’m thinking now that I’d prefer a smaller city closer to nature. I’m being a bit vague but we’re still going through conflicting feelings. I’ll expand on our most likely future base when things get back to normal and we actually get back to working towards making a base in Spain a possibility…
Blogging & travel.
A bit of a shock today when we saw that Lonely Planet is closing its main offices. Lonely Planet was THE original guidebook. I had a huge shelf of their guide books at home (they’re all now in storage in Zagreb) and I know they inspired many of my travel dreams. Having them close most of their operations is sobering.
I’ve mentioned in a prior post that the Coronavirus is hitting everyone hard, including travel bloggers. Most of us have lost about 75% of traffic. For a lot of fellow bloggers blogging was their livelihood and what money they did make supported their travel lifestyle. Many didn’t have much money to start with. Now, with advertising and affiliate income basically dead, many will be forced to find alternatives in a bad economy.
I’ve had issues with the blogger world as I’ve written about before here. Honestly, I don’t mind if the travel blogging world gets weeded down. I’ve met people over the last few years who‘ve readily admitted that they don’t have a passion for blogging. They got into it because they saw a possibility of making money while not stuck 9-5 behind a desk. The result is a lot of shit content and a lot of pandering to travel boards, hotels and tour companies.
I’d like to see travel blogging go back to people who genuinely have a passion for travel and who write honestly. The current economic difficulties might not totally solve that – some of the guiltiest parties are the big blogs who got into it for the right reasons but with time gave in to money – but I’m hoping it clears the brush of the multitudes of young bloggers who get into it for the wrong reasons.
Anyway, just some thoughts…
Almost forgot: here’s the latest on the “lockdown beard”. 32 days of growth…