Today is Saturday 14 March 2020, the day that the Spanish government officially announced a state of emergency to try to stem the spread of Covid-19, the coronavirus spreading rampant across the world. The lockdown will kick in on Monday 16 March 2020.
On Monday 9 March there were 589 confirmed, reported cases across Spain. At the time I write this, on the evening of Saturday 14 March, there are north of 6000 confirmed, reported cases. Throughout the week there has been a growing sense of anxiety among people, an impending sense of the disruption that was to come.
On Tuesday morning I visited a local supermarket, and it didn’t appear very different to any other day. Other than there being no medicinal alcohol left on the shelves. By Friday panic buying had set in. I went to a different local supermarket after I’d picked the children up from school and there was hardly a space left in the car park. The store was still relatively calm, although busy. On Saturday morning I visited our local Lidl at 09:10 (it opened at 09:00). There was not a single car parking space available; in fact people had double parked on any free bit of space they could find. The store was packed, the shelves rapidly emptying. There were no whole chickens, no chick peas and limited hot dog sausages! Every check-out was open (very rare) and the line for each stretched back half of the store.
On Wednesday there had been a meeting at work to instigate a voluntary work from home policy. Everyone who wanted to, could work from home. The management saw it as a good test run for when we would inevitably have to start working from home. On Wednesday too, it was announced that care homes would close their doors to visitors to protect their residents and that daycare centres for the elderly would close. It started feeling as if it was just a matter of time before schools would close, and remote working would become mandatory.
On Thursday evening, the president of the Andalucian local government announced that schools across Andalucia would close for 2 weeks from Monday 16th March. A number of parents decided to keep their children off of school on Friday 13 March. Birthday parties were cancelled, and the reality of some very real (and surreal) disruption started to kick in.
And then on Friday, the rumours of the state of emergency started spreading.
What does it mean to be in lockdown?
From Monday 16 March we will only be able to leave the house for the following reasons:
1) To buy food or medical supplies
2) To travel to work
3) To travel to a health care centre
4) To care for dependents
5) To return home
6) Travel to financial institutes
7) Because of a force majeure
8) “Any other activity of an analogous nature duly justified”
It is expressly forbidden to leave the house for leisure purposes.
It’s a complex piece of news to digest. Especially with 2 children. And also because it feels like a real denial of our civil liberties. I understand that this is a serious, unprecedented situation. And I understand that we all need to do our bit to try to contain or stem the spread of the virus. But it is hard to process. Already we had to deal with the news that all municipal facilities are shut (swimming pools, parks, libraries), and then that even the beaches were being sealed off. I would have thought that being outside would be one of the best places to be. But I suppose the authorities want to limit, as far as possible, all contact between people.
So I thought I would keep a record of what it’s like to be living through this situation.
How do we plan to deal with it?
We are a family of 4. Our children are 6 & 3. They’re used to a routine, as are we. We both work, they both go to school. Living in each other’s pockets for the next 2 weeks could be tricky, without being able to escape. Other than to buy food, or visit the hairdresser (I just read that hairdressers can stay open!).
We’re going to try to keep a routine during the week. We haven’t figured out what this will be yet. I am also going to try to load up on patience. And we’re all going to try to remember to be kind & to treat each other with respect. And I’ll let them do my hair if it keeps them happy and out of trouble for a few minutes. If that goes wrong, it seems that I can always go to a real hair dresser.