Diary of Spain in Lockdown Sunday 22nd March

Sunday 22nd March - one week in

We have been on lockdown for just over a week now and things have been moving so quickly here this week, it feels like the situation changes by the hour.  This morning we understood that teachers could go into school tomorrow to prepare classes, families that had forgotten books could come and collect them, but by this evening we were informed of a new order that NOBODY could be in the schools, not even management.

On English television and radio there has been much talk about Key Workers and their children being able to go to school. Here in Spain, while there has been a lot of talk and showing of support for Key Workers,  there has been no mention at all about their children, which makes me wonder, who is caring for their children, while they are caring for the rest of us? Certainly not the grandparents, which is the usual option in Spain.

We can no longer go out unless we’re buying food, medicines or for a few other specified reasons. If we’re going to work we must carry a special form from our employer authorizing us to go out.

In supermarkets the numbers of people allowed in are now limited, with special tape on the floor marking one metre distancing, although when I ventured to the Carrefour at our local shopping centre on Wednesday there were so few people it was hardly necessary. On the way in we were given hand sanitizer and gloves. They stopped short of giving us masks, probably because they are in such short supply, but at least half the shoppers were wearing them and a few had scarves pulled up over their mouths and noses.

As I walked through the familiar aisles, the supermarket was eerily silent, there were no crying babies, no children running between the clothes rails, in fact all non-food items were now cordoned off. Most shoppers had come alone as we’re not supposed to go out in pairs or groups, and there was no need to look behind the facemasks to see that the mood of the shoppers was serious, just wanting to get their groceries and return to the safety of their homes.

I had hoped to find some fresh vegetables, willing to settle for anything really, so I was quite taken aback at how much food there actually was. I came home with mangos, avocadoes, asparagus and artichokes (rather luxurious in anyone’s house I’m sure) because they were all at knockdown prices.

I wasn’t on the hunt for loo roll (my husband had been luckier earlier in the week)  but I had hoped to be able to grab a little something for my daughters to give their dad on the Spanish Father’s Day, but no such luck. Thanks to a new ruling brought in that morning, anything non-essential (so not food or cleaning products) was now out of bounds. So this year my husband would have to make do with a can of Guiness and some homemade cards and cocnut ice.

Tomorrow (Monday) will be a challenge as virtual schooling begins in earnest in Valencia. And it’s going to be a test for everyone.  I teach in two schools and, apart from my own work, I’ll have to make sure my four daughters are all on track with their work. The teenagers will be attending vitual classes while we will receive weekly instructions for nine-year-old María and the five-year-old Helena.

To help with the continuation of learning, one of the Spanish television channels, Clan TV, has changed its schedule to include programmes for school subjects between 9am and 2pm. Monday maths, Tuesday Science and so on, increasing in age as the morning goes on.

I recently read that we have passed the initial ‘shock’ phase and are now in the ‘panic’ stage and I must confess that my thoughts are a bit black at times, especially when we hear reports of young, healthy people in intensive care. I worry about loved ones, especially little Helena who has asthma. Last year we adopted a kitten and she turned out to be so allergic to it that she ended up in hospital on oxygen. I worry how her little lungs would cope against Coronavirus.

So, we must do all we can to help us and those around us, people we know and care about as well as those we don’t. The best thing we can do is to stay at home.

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