Headlines in the UK press today appear to imply that the lockdown in Spain is over, with articles stating ´Spain eases lockdown with ´non-essential´ employees wearing masks to go to work´. In reality, it is basically construction workers (builders, plumbers, electricians) who are wearing masks, working on empty building sites – not private homes and are trying to social distance that have gone back.
Also mechanic, but only for existing projects within their workshops but no new vehicles. It was exactly a month ago that the country stopped and we are now entering our fifth week. For the vast majority of those living here, they still have to remain at home. Hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants all remains firmly shut and will do for the foreseeable future. A trip through Benidorm resembles a scene from the movies, where time has literally stood still.
A banner suspended from Jokers, to celebrate St Patrick´s Day on March 17 that never was, remains swinging in the wind after all bars were ordered to closed at midnight on Friday, March 13. Thousands of Brits that worked in the hospitality industry are now sitting at home, weathering the storm that has engulfed not just Benidorm, but the entire world.
Many come to the resort for the incredible beaches by day and fabulous nightlife with live entertainment by night - which you can still experience as numerous acts are performing online via their facebook pages for free most nights. There are also quiz nights and a couple of fun videos that have been produced to make light of this stressful situation we all find ourselves in.
Here in Spain the lockdown has been exceptionally strict and people are not even allowed out for walks. Those with dogs can take their pets for very short walks, normally no further than 50mt from their homes. Police checkpoints are common, with every vehicle being stopped to ask where they are going.
Those going to work, if permitted under the decree, must produce a stamped certificate from their employer. If shopping, you can only go alone (unless escorting a disabled person) and are asked where you live to check it is your nearest supermarket. One gentleman was stopped from going to Carrefour, where he was heading and slapped with a €600 fine and sent back home.
Over the Easter weekend, police were even spotted inside supermarkets, asking shoppers for their ID, which showed their address. This was predominantly to catch anyone that had driven from Madrid for the long holiday weekend … and mark my words, they would have been hit with an extortionate fine. Residents have pulled together, supporting one another as best as they can during this dreadful situation.
Benidorm will rise again… when, is another question but it will be waiting for you all. The Prime Minister is expected to request the authorization from the Spanish Congress next week for a further extension to the current State of Alarm lockdown until Sunday, May 10. Realistically the crazy busy summer season is lost but it will dust itself down … the golden beaches will be here, appreciative business owners will welcome you – it´s just a matter of time. In the meantime, stay safe so you can return.
I'll be out next year I promise