It’s been exactly six months since lockdown began. Well, some say it was officially declared on the 16th of March, but in fact by Saturday the 14th here schools, offices, shops, bars and restaurants had all been ordered to shut and people were told to stay at home. As with, I think, all of us, it took a while for it all to sink in. What it would mean to us, our lives, the world. I remember the “good ol’ days” when my main concern, chatting with friends, was that all my tapas tours for the spring had been cancelled and I was going to lose the high season trade. Back then everyone was sure this would all be over by summertime. Ha.
It turns out that you can get a Covid test in Sevilla at any private clinic / lab. It costs between 50-70€ and you get the results in five hours. Question. Why doesn’t our government set up a booth at the airport so arriving UNTESTED tourists can be tested and, by the time they have settled into their hotels, they will know if they are carriers or not and if they need to quarantine? Why is the focus on tourists getting tested after they get home again?
They are finally pedestrianising Calle Mateos Gago, where l lived for 18 years (just above those orange trees on the top left pic). I walked all through Barrio Santa Cruz the other day and didn’t see one shop or one bar open, even beyond the street works. Why? Because nobody lives there anymore. This is what happens when you turn a previously vibrant and thriving neighbourhood into a tourist ghetto.
So remember when I was mostly concerned about tourists from the EU Schengen countries (and frankly, also from Spanish virus hotspots like Madrid and Barcelona) suddenly being allowed to travel freely throughout Spain from July 1st? Well it turns out those were the days!
In a blink of an eye the Spanish government caved once again and now we are opening our borders to Schengen countries NEXT MONDAY. That’s right, the very day that we are released from lockdown after 100 days. Without giving us any time at all to adapt and see how we do here with implementing the “new now” regulations as well as dealing with our own homegrown Covidiots. Like, we now have to deal with untested asymptomatic carriers coming here ON FUCKING HOLIDAY from day one. But okay, at least this new deal excluded tourists from the UK (aka Plague Island) so I thought that was at least one less worry. Except now it looks like it actually may become a worry, and a big one.
Ah who am I trying to kid? Of course our government is going to cave again and allow UK tourists in. Bear in mind there will be no testing or quarantining involved with anybody coming here. Just a quick temperature check (useless for infectious asymptomatic carriers, approx 40% of people who test positive for Covid), fill out a form, and welcome to Spain. The only question now is when? Also next Monday? Or will they stick with the original (still way too soon) date of July 1st?
So as of last Monday we are in Phase 2 in Andalucía (Madrid and Catalunya are catching up and are on Phase 1). This means that more public spaces are opening, bars and restaurants have a bit more flexibility, non-essential shops and department stores are also allowed to open, and some restrictions are lifted for general circulation around town and within the province. All of course with the required “social distancing” measures, and all kinds of disinfecting, cleaning, etc going on. Ah, and masks have been mandatory since last weekend. If all goes well, Phase 3 is meant to start on June 8th.
What could go wrong? Well, plenty. I still see (from my balcony) too many people not wearing masks, walking too close to others, basically not giving a shit. So I am personally still in Phase 0, only going out for essential shopping and taking out the rubbish, otherwise I am staying home and staying safe. And walking on my roof (view from rooftop in photo above).