A few weeks ago – when we were watching as China succumbed to COVID-19 – I wouldn’t have imagined that countries in Europe would soon be in the grip of a pandemic. Disbelief set in when parts of Italy – and then the whole country – went into lockdown. I couldn’t bear to think about what it would be like to be confined most of the time to home (even though I do love our home). Well, we’re about to find out.
According to the World Health Organization, Europe is now the epicentre of the pandemic, with Italy the worst affected. Spain is the second worst-affected country in Europe. At the time I’m writing this today (Saturday 14th), 44 people across the Balearic Islands have been infected with Coronavirus. Across the whole of Spain, the figure today is more than 6,000.
On Thursday I wrote most of a blog post about how Coronavirus was affecting Mallorca and the Balearics, and us in our rural home. It was quite a long post, which I hadn’t finished when I had to leave home to attend a press lunch.
At the time I started writing, the Balearic government had just announced measures to help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. Schools and educational establishments would close for 15 days from Monday (16th) and numerous sporting, social, and cultural events and facilities had been cancelled or postponed. Restaurants, bars, and clubs, with larger capacities, would also have to close.
When I came to finish the post yesterday morning, everything I’d written was about to change. I hit the ‘delete’ button and awaited further developments.
State of Alert for Spain
Yesterday, the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced that the Cabinet would meet today to implement a ‘state of alert’ for 15 days for the whole country. (I learnt today that there are three categories for emergency situations: state of alert, state of emergency, and state of siege. What I’ve heard about panic buying in supermarkets here makes me think that some people are already in siege mode.)
These national measures come into effect at 8am on Monday, March 16th, to restrict the movement of people. Basically, we must adhere to social distancing, by staying at home.
The government has listed eight justifications for leaving home, which include: going to buy food, medicines, other basics, and fuel for vehicles; travelling to work and back (although businesses are obliged to allow employees to work from home); attending health centres, or going to a bank for money. Travelling around for pleasure is banned. Eating and drinking out are off the menu: only businesses providing essentials will remain open.
Public transport will continue, albeit with reduced services. The Balearic president would like to sever air connections with the Peninsular, but this has not been agreed so far.
With all this going on, we are so grateful to be living in a rural area of Mallorca, where we have few neighbours, clean air, and plenty of open land around us. I don’t even want to think about what it would be like to be confined to a small apartment in a town or city. The expression ‘stir crazy’ comes to mind, and I wouldn’t be surprised if both divorce rates and pregnancies soared as a result.
What I am thinking about is how to use this enforced confinement in a productive way – such as pressing on with writing my novel or doing some home-improvement works with The Boss (I won’t share that with him yet).
I try to find something positive in any dire situation and, hey, I just found one: I was due to go to the dentist this week, but now the appointment will be cancelled.
Meanwhile, whatever the COVID-19 situation is wherever you are, take care and stay safe. This, too, shall pass. We hope.
Jan Edwards ©2020