By Ken Turk
WE ARE now into our fourth week in lockdown which came in on Sunday, March 15.
During the first couple of days there was, without doubt, a great deal of panic-buying in all the supermarkets but, fortunately, we already had plenty of food and essentials in the house to easily see us through the first week or two.
Once the dust had settled and everyone realised their country had a good supply chain and shelves would be restocked regularly, it calmed down a bit.
Generally, shelves are well stocked and we have not experienced any problems getting what we need. Spain, being one of the world leaders in wine production does help, so no complaints here.
Supermarkets such as Mercadona, Aldi and Cosume are enforcing strict rules on the number of people in store at any time and employing security who regulate the numbers through a one-out, one-in queueing system which works well.
Queueing is predominantly in the morning but, if you head out to buy some essentials in the afternoon, these are pretty much non-existent.
Perhaps this is because of the Spanish daily siestas. To ensure social distancing the stores have placed marker tape on the ground outside at two-metre intervals and in the check-out aisles inside. Hand sanitiser stations and gloves are also made available to shoppers.
Other than the chemists, supermarkets, post office and petrol stations, all other shops and businesses have been closed.
I don’t think prices have risen in the shops but fuel prices at the pump have definitely dropped. Pity you can’t go anywhere, though.
As you will have seen on the news, Spain is experiencing a rough time with the coronavirus and the death figures are alarming, with nearly 850 deaths in the past 24 hours, and continuing to rise.
I spoke to one of the nurses here in Yecla who we have got to know quite well and who is responsible for CV testing on the frontline.
She said that, like the UK, they have been experiencing a shortfall in the number of facemasks and other essential protective equipment.
With a population of about 34,000, Yecla has experienced four deaths so far and, because of the lack of beds in the ICU, has flown four patients to other hospitals. The youngest patient was only six. I have attached a photo she sent me yesterday. She’s the nurse on the right.
In terms of when you can leave the house and what you can leave for we’re pretty much confined to barracks other than shopping for essentials and
going to the chemist or doctor.
Movement in vehicles is restricted to one person only. You can go for a short walk on your own but only if you are exercising your dog. So, no dog, no walkies.
Fortunately, we have Arthur, our black Labrador, and take it in turns to exercise him and stretch our legs.
The movement of people and vehicles is closely monitored by a heavier police presence in town and numerous check-points.
Joanne was stopped last week by the police and questioned about where she had been and where she was going. Hefty fines, minimum 600 euros, are being issued to those who don’t abide by the guidelines and rules set by the government.
The Army has been drafted in to help the police and I have heard they are helping transform a large communal building in town into an overspill hospital.
We are fortunate to live in a country house outside town. It has a decent garden and wooded area to look after and, because of the amount of rain we have had during lockdown so far, there are plenty of weeds to pull.
I haven’t bothered with the online and TV fitness sessions yet but Joanne has. I break into sweat just watching her and, besides, I’ve got plenty to do in the garden and house DIY jobs. That’s my excuse anyway.
I can only imagine what it must be like for those living in the centre of Yecla, which is a typical Spanish town, very claustrophobic with most people living on top of each other. Cabin Fever must be setting in by now.
When the sun sets, we have found ourselves binging on Netflix and we have satellite TV to keep us up to date with events back home. The gin cabinet and wine rack are both showing a few empty spaces now but are not at critical levels yet.
To summarise, we are living in a country which is one of the worst hit by the virus but we take comfort in knowing that people here are taking this situation seriously and abiding by the lockdown policies in place.
Like everyone else, we hope this dreadful virus is beaten as soon as possible so we can resume normal living again and can look forward to having family and friends out to visit us in the very near future. Except my sister, Jacqueline Hall!
We are confident that, by limiting our trips into town for essentials, we will remain safe and healthy during this lockdown and pray the virus doesn’t raise its head in The Muckle Toon.
I’ll leave by saying our thoughts go out to the NHS staff, care workers, emergency services and all those who are putting their lives on the line to keep the wheels rolling and look after us during these difficult times.