The coronavirus in Spain: lockdown Diaries Day 72
Sunday May 24, 2020
We can finally start making travel plans.
Firstly, we are still in a State of Alarm. Last week the government and opposition parties decided to extend the State of Alarm until June 7. That means we’re still only allowed out 1 hour a day for exercise. People are getting fed up (more on that further below). Before the decision to extend for 2 weeks, the government was talking of extending the State of Alarm from May 24 (today, when it expired) all the way to June 29, the date which coincides with the end of de-escalation into the “new normal”. But they reconsidered when they saw that they probably wouldn’t be able to push this 1 month extension through Congress. So we now have a State of Alarm extending to June 7th (which they may try to extend for another 2 weeks after…)
But here’s the good news for us as well as for many:
1) For us: the government decreed this week that “all tourist visas that were expired during the State of Alarm are automatically extended up to 3 months more. This three months will start counting the day the State of Alarm will finish”.
It’s a very generous extension and means that we don’t have to rush out of Spain when the state of alarm ends.
2) For tourists: Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that “Foreign tourists will be able to return to Spain from July”. Full article here. The announcement is short on specifics. When in July? Will that include non-EU citizens? (or just European citizens?). I guess we’ll learn specifics in coming days.
Discontent in Spain and around the World
I mentioned above that the government was facing increased opposition to the State of Alarm. The Spanish have generally been very supportive of the lockdown and the need to reduce the infection rate of the virus. And it’s worked: infection rates have fallen and the average number of deaths has fallen under 100 per day for the last week. But like many other places, people are now getting antsy and want life to get back to normal. Since last week there has been a daily ritual (at 9pm) of people getting on their balconies and banging pots and pans in opposition to the continued lockdown. This weekend there have also been a few anti-government marches. The number of people are generally small, but at the same time you can sense that people are getting fed up…
The protests here don’t compare though to the protests in Germany (where numbers have also gone down) or the US (where numbers are not going down).
Going back to my first Coronavirus diaries in March I mentioned that the US and UK were mismanaging the virus. Today the US has by far the most infections and deaths in the world and the UK has the highest numbers in Europe. The growing hot spot these days is Brazil, another place led by another virus non-believer.
This website shows total infections and deaths, with breakdowns by country.
Re-opening the economy. Nobody wants to have economies closed and the question of when to re-open is a balancing act. Keeping economies closed saves people’s lives but people and businesses suffer. Re-open the economy before it’s time (ie. before the curve flattens) and more people die, the healthcare system is overrun, and the economy is still affected because the infection is still out there with chances of getting worse.
Which of the above economic strategies are better in the long run? I have my theory. But I’d be very interested to see how different countries, with different re-opening strategies, fare over the span of a year or two. One thing is for sure: Spain has done a good job of (almost*) stomping out the virus. Travellers – when they do come back – can feel as safe (as it’s possible to feel safe*) coming to Spain.
*I have a bunch of caveats in there because we still feel generally nervous about travelling during this time. I don’t recommend anyone jump on a plane. But what I’m saying is that if you’re going to travel somewhere no matter what, then Spain is just as safe a country as you could hope for.
One last thing about the economy. My mom sent me this video a few days ago about the US economy and the prospects for recovery. It’s what I’ve felt in my gut but this guy does a great job of putting it in a way we can all understand.
Below: Preparing for our daily walk…
Are we depressed?
We have nothing to be depressed about compared to most people. We’re not stuck in an apartment with 5 family members, we don’t have any economic difficulties (sure, we took a hit on the markets. But we’re not in dire straits like so many people). But I think that over 2 months of being in lockdown in a dark (nice, but dark) apartment is affecting us. We haven’t slept well, we haven’t been motivated to do anything, we feel guilty about not being motivated, we’re bored…
If not depressed we’re definitely in a funk.
3 weeks ago they started allowing us to go out for 1 hour of exercise/day (even prisoners get more than that). You would have thought that would improve our mood. The thing is that allowed exercise times are from 6am-10 am and 8pm-11pm for those 14 and over. Those are pretty restrictive time slots and since most of the population (“general population”? Ha! Another prison reference) fits in that category it means that there are actually more people walking around during those hours than there would be at any normal time, pre-pandemic. I actually think those time limitations weren’t very well thought out. It actually makes going out stressful.
Also stressful are the new procedures. Spain put into law last week than people have to wear masks in any public space (open or closed) where it is not possible to keep a space of at least 2 meters from others (this law is for the duration of the State of Alarm). I don’t know how other people feel but I hate wearing a mask: they’re hot, my glasses steam up…
The other thing is that if you’re a couple, or a family, your paranoia about contracting the virus might be different. Between Lissette and I, I have the more relaxed attitude. Before the above law, I would walk outside without the mask (I would put it on before going into any building). The whole point of going outside for me is to get fresh air. Lissette on the other hand is the Virus Police: she’ll wear a mask, she’ll bring gel to wipe our hands if we come in contact with anything, she’ll tell me to stick right next to her when walking (“come here! Those people aren’t moving over!”). I’m on a tight leash. When we come home she has a strict disinfection procedure: I take my shoes off outside the door, I strip off all my clothes and mask when I walk in (there’s a laundry basket she’s placed by the door). Then she squirts some alcohol on my hands. Then I have to go take a shower. I guess I have to be thankful she’s not making me drink a cup of bleach or sticking light rods up my butt.
Lissette admits she’s probably overdoing it but she’s always been the careful type. Even before the virus, she wouldn’t drink or eat before getting on a flight because she didn’t want to use a public bathroom (she just finds public bathrooms repulsive). I’ve seen her take a 16 hour train ride without having to use the bathroom.
But it’s stressful when you don’t share the same anality as your partner. The thing is though that you have to respect your partner’s phobia because you’re a team and you’re both responsible for not getting each other sick. And while I know Lissette’s rules are maybe a bit over the top, I know she’s keeping me safe. And her anality has saved us many times in the past in different aspects of travelling (including a few months ago when she smelled something funny in Granada. I hadn’t turned the gas stove off properly before coming to bed).
But I’ve already said – a couple of times in frustration – that if this is the “new normal” that I don’t want any part of it. It makes me angry that this is what life has come to. Of course we’re still in lockdown and all these rules will (hopefully) no longer be in effect by the end of June when Spain has come out of the “de-escalation” process. But for now it all sucks.
Anyway, all to say we feel Blah right now, just as many other people do (just found this article in the Atlantic which is interesting: “Is everyone Depressed?”)
Above: our latest art project. This one is mine…Lissette’s is the header at the top of the page.
Michael Jordan and “the Last Dance”
I loved the Netflix documentary “the Last Dance” and recommend it to anyone who’s a sports fan. It’s superbly done and tells the story of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in their quest for NBA Championships in the 1990’s. Lots of basketball highlights as well as background on the players at the heart of that team – and the drama behind the scenes – during that time.
Jordan was the ultimate competitor and wasn’t always loved by his teammates. In fact many feared him. He would often get in people’s faces, would taunt them, talk shit. He obsessively made everything personal, especially when competing against other teams. If someone showed him up in a game he wouldn’t let it go – and would target and embarrass them the next time they played.
Jordan didn’t make his high school team the 1st year he tried out. He didn’t have the natural talent others did. And he wasn’t big or particularly fast. But everyone, all the way down the line through his career, said he was the hardest worker they had ever seen. It was his hard work made him the best basketball player in NBA history. And during the 1990’s he led the Bulls to 6 championships in 8 years.
Having finished watching it, I’ve been surprised by the many negative comments on Jordan written by journalists who watched the same thing we did. Calling him a “bully”, an “obsessively competitive athlete”, a “tyrant”.
I’ll admit he’s not the most likeable character but the series made me respect his accomplishments even more considering the talent level he started with. And on being hated by teammates? Anyone who’s played sports (and this applies to all aspects of life) knows that all people are different. Some need a pat on the back and supportive words, others only perform when they have a boot halfway up their ass. If you’re a hard worker and obsessive as Jordan was, the likelihood is that most people will hate you instead of love you (even if all the championship trophies sitting on their shelves can be attributable directly to him).
I especially appreciated Jordan after watching another ESPN documentary: Doc & Darryl. It documents Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry, two baseball players with incredible natural talent who made their names with The New York Mets in the 1980’s (funny enough, their time period coincides with Michael Jordan’s: mid 1980s to late 1990s). In their first few years, both are among the best in the league at their respective positions (Gooden as a pitcher, Strawberry as a power hitter).
But their story takes a totally different turn. Both turn to alcohol and drugs. During their careers, both get routinely arrested for drunk driving, drug possession, rape charges, and domestic violence charges. Both get numerous chances to get back on track but both repeatedly lose it all to drugs and alcohol.
It’s a story of 2 guys with all the natural talent in the world who throw it all away. Even watching them in the documentary (filmed in 2010) you see that they’ve never recovered: Strawberry is fat and bloated, Gooden gaunt and fidgety. When you look in their eyes all you seem is shame and regret at what they did with their lives.
Give me Michael Jordan over that any day.
Sorry, I went off on a tangent there that has nothing to do with Spain or the coronavirus…
Anyway, it looks like we will be in lockdown until at least June 7. That would bring us to 86 days in lockdown. June 21st is a date on my calendar – if lockdown is extended that far it’ll make for 100 days in lockdown. It also means, like it or not, you’ll be getting a few more of these coronavirus diaries…
past lockdown diaries:
Lockdown diary Tuesday March 17 (day 4)
Lockdown diary Tuesday March 24 (day 11)
Lockdown diary Tuesday March 31 (day 18)
Lockdown diary Tuesday April 14 (day 32)
Lockdown diary Sunday April 26 (day 44)
Spain after lockdown: looking forward to the “new normal”
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Ying & Brad
Hi Frank – we’d like to share our latest slow travel experience in this COVID-19 era. After pausing our life for 2.5 months in the UK, we booked a flight to Croatia for 1 June only to get cancelled one week later. After regrouping we found Croatia Airlines fly out of London via Frankfurt and were delighted to book our tickets for a flight that was two days earlier than the original one, even though it meant a 12 hour flight journey with 2 stop overs instead of 2 hours straight. We got up at 4:30am bright and early this morning, got to Heathrow and checked in without any issues. Then it was boarding time. Although it was booked with Croatian Airlines, the operating flight was actually Lufthansa. At the gate we were stopped by an agent asking what our reason was for travel, then were told we were not allowed to board because Germany doesn’t allow any tourist transit through their country. Despite showing them the approval to enter Croatia from Croatian border police and telling them we absolutely have nowhere else to go, they insisted unless we have a residence in Croatia, we can’t transit in Frankfurt, therefore no boarding. That was it. Tired, frustrated and angry, we then had to ask several airport staff members how to get out to retrieve our checked-in luggages. Luckily our accommodation was still available, so we caught another 40 minutes taxi ride to get back “home”. It was a hell of a morning with drama and costs on all levels! The worst thing is we don’t even know who to blame! Looks like there are direct London – Split flights resuming on June 15th – so being the optimists (or gluttons for punishment) that we are, we have booked 2 seats for that one! We’ll get there one day, for now, it’s another 2 weeks of roaming our local forests!
Thanks for the update guys. From what I see, not all nationalities are allowed into Croatia at this point. See here. And at the moment, they haven’t said anything about letting non-EU in the country…
Croatia has been sending out very contradictory news out. I’d just be 100% sure that you can enter…and that any transit countries also allow you to transit…
Sorry to hear your news 🙁
Frank, you might be in a “funk”, but you have not lost your sense of humor one little bit. I can’t stop laughing about this statement ” I guess I have to be thankful she’s not making me drink a cup of bleach or sticking light rods up my butt”… give her more time in the crazy context of lockdown and she might hahaha. Like yourself, I am not a fan of wearing a face-covering/mask, I don’t wear it if going outdoors, but only when food shopping or enclosed spaces. Spain did have some very strict lockdown measures, but at least they are consistent, not like here in the UK. There have been so many mixed messages, recently we discovered that a senior government advisor has not followed the lockdown rules that he helped to create in the first place. People feel that there are rules for the population and a different set of rules for the government and his associates. I think people are starting to rebel and the beaches near us were backed full in these last few days.
I like your artwork, very creative 🙂
Thanks Gilda, you sound like me and not that crazy Lissette 🙂
Yes, I’ve heard of this Cummings guy who’s already had quite the reputation before this.In a way I don’t blame the people, if they see leaders not bothering then why should they? It has to start at the top. On the other hand, makes you appreciate the leaders who’ve been professional in dealing with this.
we’re slowly moving out of lockdown. In Victoria they are moving slower than the other states. I dont think thats a bad thing. But come June 1 restaurants can open tables for up to 20 people. so it’s a start. second wave will always be the fear though
I’m trying not to think 2nd wave for now…just need a few months in between waves…
Lisa and Robert
My husband laughed out loud when he read this and said that Lissette and I would be best friends. I’m pretty sure I’ve never used a train bathroom and I’ve flown to Europe many times without using the plane bathroom. I was even once congratulated by a bus driver in Malaysia for my ability to hold my bladder — he literally said “nice job” when we got off the bus. I don’t demand that we take off our clothes and shower after being outside (although I used to), but I do still quarantine all non-perishable groceries for three days. Stay safe in Spain for as long as you can.
Congratulations on the strong bladder Lisa. We should get you and Lissette together and force you to drink beer and see which of the two of you holds out longest.
Wow, quarantine non-perishables! You go even further than we do. But Lissette does make me wash wine bottles when we get at them for the first time (being in Spain we have a whole shelf of wine bottles waiting to be drunk…)
Thanks for the comment, made me smile 🙂
Give me a country like Portugal and Spain that is taking Covid-19 seriously, relying on scientific data and doing all they can to contain the virus and protect their residents versus the patchworked, half-assed approach to containing the virus in the US and the cold-blooded conclusion of the governing administration that the economy is worth more than the lives of its citizens. Even the wearing of masks has become with politicized with the right equating non-mask wearing as a personal freedom (right along with carrying their guns) versus the more cautious and deliberate approach from the center-to-left mask-wearers. The MAGA red hat wearers can protest while the masked and hand-sanitized population remain at home as much as possible and try to avoid gatherings. (It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss story of the Star Bellied Sneetches!) Rant over … So glad to hear that there is no immediate need to leave Spain and that you have a 3-month visa extension whenever the State of Alarm is lifted. I can definitely understand why you would feel nervous and hesitant about travel for now and the immediate future. The uncertainty sucks as well as the inability to make any future plans. As far as getting things done, I’ve read several times that just getting through this time and remaining healthy is a big goal in itself so don’t beat yourselves up. I’m wowed that you are continuing to write and loving your art projects! Keep well friends, ~A
Totally agree with your rant and I like to hear people get upset 🙂 I wish more people would.
Thank you for your message on not beating ourselves up. Nice to hear because we often feel guilty.
One day we’ll meet up in Portugal Anita and this will all be behind us.
Can’t comment on your sports diary (not a sports fan, but a dancer yes). Just want to speak to Lisette: you are my kind of person, and Frank, I do the same to my husband. Take clothes off , shower, I disinfect everything, including shoes. As for the US, as I already mentioned, in my neck of the woods, half the people barely cared to wear masks. Business was good for Home depot and Laws, people were busy fixing homes and spring gardening. Life is almost back to normal….but I am still a bit nervous. We signed up to do Covid-19 testing on Tuesday and just changed our mind not to do it, thinking it’s useless if no apparent symptoms. Glad to hear that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel……soon. Stay well.
Thanks Sara. You and Lissette would get along. I don’t know if I could take you both anywhere though, you’d both be too concerned about wiping off every surface 🙂
As I mentioned to Mary in the comments, it’s all about the message from the top. If Trump won’t take it seriously, many people won’t either. And maybe that’s ok in places like Florida (it’s not conclusive, but warmer weather places seem to generally be doing better. Even here in Spain warmer places like Andalucia seem to be doing better).
Anyway, take care and stay safe!
too bad you don’t live in the good ole USofA – the people got tired of the lockdown so they just quit it. The people don’t think the medical community knows what they are talking about – they prefer to believe this entire pandemic was brought on by the liberal establishment and so pretty much we are done. But come on, we are number 1 – remember? Even if we lose a couple of hundred thousand it’s worth it to sit in a bar and not wear a mask. And that is how we roll…..
Don’t get me started Mary, I totally agree with you. But the contradictory messages from the White House don’t help, how are people going to take it seriously if even the president refuses to wear a mask? From the beginning he’s belittled the pandemic, contradicted the medical experts, supported anti-government protests in Democratic controlled states, pushed conspiracy theories and bogus medical advice. Now he wants schools and churches open. Many Americans will take him at his word, he’s supposed to be the president after all, looking out for the good of all Americans.
A total joke.