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Spain lockdown: Top ten tips to survive (and thrive) during quarantine

Khephra C. White knows a thing or two about hunkering down in a storm, but are her skills enough to keep her going through Spain's lockdown?

Spain lockdown: Top ten tips to survive (and thrive) during quarantine
Across Spain, people are confined to their homes. Photo: AFP

Happy Quarantine, everyone! Trust me, those words were as strange to type as they probably were to read. You may not have noticed but we’re going through an …interesting time here in Spain.

Like many of you, I’ve suddenly found myself with more free time than I expected. Thankfully, years of hurricane preparation in my home town of New Orleans have taught me different ways to keep myself entertained. So here are some handy dandy recommendations for how to care for yourself, care for others, and entertain your bored asses during #Coronavirus2020:

Get to know your neighbours… from a distance.


Neighbours in Madrid chat through open windows. Photo: AFP

My building has an inner courtyard with a balcony on each floor. So those of us who live there have started sitting outside our doors and talking to each other over morning coffee. Sometimes there’s music (I woke them up to Prince this morning. Tomorrow: Rick James!), sometimes there’s gossip (Okay, there’s always gossip. I don’t know who Rosario and Juanjo are, but I know all of their business and I am shocked and appalled.). I’m sure that normally we probably wouldn’t yell at each other across the balcony, or scream introductions at the people upstairs but hey… this isn’t exactly a normal month, is it?

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Clean and organize your space.


Nows the time to yourself the wardrobe clean out you deserve! Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash
 

Loads of us will have to work from home, so this is an ideal time to clean up. Once the shock wore off, I spent my second day in quarantine cleaning and organizing my living room. I made a workspace, a space for yoga and meditation, and space to just lay on the couch. My apartment is pretty small but now it doesn’t feel so cramped. Do a deep clean. Throw out those old spices that expired in 2018 that don’t even move when you shake the bottle (don’t act like you don’t know what I mean)! Chuck deuces to your old beauty products and trial size bottles you stole from some hotel last year. Go through your clothes and put some aside some for donations. Unpack that suitcase from your Christmas vacation. This is a great time to purge things you don’t need.

Exercise!

If your gym is closed, and mine certainly is, you’ll need to find a way to burn off some energy. My neighbors are working out on the balcony as I write this, but I prefer to stay inside with the windows open. One thing about going digital is that there are plenty of videos online to watch for yoga, meditation, pilates, dance, etc. I’ve taken classes with local fitness instructors and done meditations over Skype. Hell, my gym is even live-streaming classes! There are tons of Facebook groups and websites that can offer things to do. See what’s out there!

Find your creative outlets! 


Photo by Ursula Castillo on Unsplash

Do you like to draw or paint? Can you play any instruments? Are you skilled in African Basket Weaving? Now’s your time to shine! Dust off those knitting needles/crochet hooks and get to work! You can find all kinds of things online, from patterns to musical scores, absolutely free! I plan to come out of quarantine with at least three new hats and maybe some tea cozies. I’m from the US so I don’t even know what a tea cozy is. Who cares!? I’m gonna make some!

Read a book


Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Read a book, read a book, read a motherf****n book (if you know, you know)! I’ve got loads of reading to do and this is the perfect time to get started. Those dusty volumes that you own just to make yourself look smart: open them (you can do that, you know) and then… wait for it… READ the words on the pages! If you don’t roll with the paper anymore, you can use your library card to check out e-books in seconds. Don’t have a library card? Then use the power of the Internet to take you websites like Project Gutenberg, which have free e-books and e-readers just waiting to be discovered. And on that note…

READ ALSO:   Ten books that tell you everything you need to know about Spain

Never underestimate the power of online streaming!

Y’all, we have SO. MUCH. at our fingertips! Netflix and YouTube alone will provide hours of entertainment. Honestly, this could all be over by the time you make it through a quarter of their catalogs! Need company? Get some friends to hop onto Skype, or Google Hangouts, and have a watch party! Take as long as you like – it’s not like you have somewhere to be.

READ MORE: The ultimate binge-watch bucket list of Spanish box-sets

Learn a new hobby!

This is the time to work on some new skills or indulge in some old ones. Are you a dreadful cook? Is your potato salad banned from the family picnic? Well embrace your inner Julia Child, and try out some new recipes. This is perfect if you live alone because if your meal turns out to be horrible: No one will suffer but you! My Spanish needs Jesús at this point, so I’m taking some time to study. I’ve got good old books and online Spanish lessons to pass the time. Are you an art lover? There are museums around the world offering virtual tours and exhibits. Gotta Dance? Gotta Sing? If the Broadway rhythm’s got you, you can watch some of the best musicals in town – straight from the Great White Way to your computer!

Did someone say Dance Party!?

 

If you live alone, there’s no better time to have a Pants Off Dance Off to some of your favorite tunes. Got roommates? Get them to join in and blow off some steam. You can even call some friends on Skype and get a dance party going. Make a playlist of songs that really get you going and share it far and wide. There’s no better reason to get moving! Try not to get the party going too late, though. If you live in a third-floor apartment like me, the people downstairs may not appreciate you getting your groove on all night. Be gleeful, but respectful. This also applies to the exercise tip too!

Have a Spa Day!

This is your chance to try all those cosmetics you’ve been saving for a rainy day. Learn how to get that smokey eye makeup just right. Work on your eyeliner game. Give yourself a mani/pedi. Take a long bubble bath. Try something new with your hair. The possibilities are endless here and you don’t even have to buy anything new. You’ve got everything you need right at home.

Check on your friends and family!

Some of us are in hog heaven with our newfound free time. However, others are really struggling with isolation and loneliness. Take a minute to send friends messages, voice notes, and even silly videos (dance party videos work too) to keep morale high. Skype calls are great for touching base and just venting about your feelings. With the technology we have now, it’s even easier to let someone know you’re thinking of them. Reach out, you’ll see that it’s appreciated.

So there it is, my top 10 tips to tackle a quarantine in full effect. Hopefully, this will make it easier to get through the storm. You all take care, be well, and remember: We’re all in this together and we will make it through together. Peace.

Khephra C. White (pictured above) is a comedian, actress, writer, and English teacher from New Orleans, LA making her way in Madrid, Spain. In normal times you can find her performing stand-up comedy in Madrid. Follow her blog 'Misadventures en España'

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COVID-19

Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.

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