In a recent survey we asked readers how they felt about the confinement measures put in place by the Spanish government.
Pedro Sanchez initially put Spain in a State of Alarm on March 14th, a measure which saw people confined to their homes except for good reason, such as purchasing essential supplies, visiting vulnerable relatives, or going to the work place if it wasn’t possible to work from home.
Those measures were extended to stop all but key workers from travelling to their workplace, a move that the government said would put the Spanish economy in “hibernation”.
People living in Spain are now approaching a full month in lockdown and commonplace pleasure of meeting friends on a terraza for a caña has become but a distant memory.
But the measures do seem to be working, or so we are told by Spanish health authorities.
The number of deaths per day have dropped and we are seeing both a flattening of the curve in terms of rate of new patients admitted into ICU and of new infections (although without widespread testing the figures are problematic).
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But what do people feel about the prospect of extending the lockdown even further, possibly into May?
More than two-thirds of the readers who completed our latest survey said they were in favour of an extension, if that was deemed necessary by the Spanish government.
“It is better the virus is completely under control, it would be worse for the country if it re-appeared and we had yet another lockdown,” explained Elizabeth Macleod, 70, from her home in Calpe on the Costa Blanca.
“We're just on the point of getting it under control,” agreed Andi Catt who is living out in the countryside outside Almódovar del Rio, near Córdoba. “It would be mad to risk it all now.”
Many expressed a fear of a second wave of the outbreak if measures were lifted too soon.
“We should not let all the gains from the lockdown go down the drain because of too hasty a reopening,” said Maria Pedersen, 64, in Mijas Costa.
Susan Wallace, 73, in Valencia summed it up: “It is too soon to be sure that there won't be a secondary outbreak.”
However, many of those who expressed the view that lockdown should be extended admitted to being retired and not having their income affected by the crisis.
So, not only have they not seen their livelihood threatened but are in the high risk group that is in most danger from covid-19.
“(The country) needs to be totally clear at this stage before risking people’s lives, I am one of the oldies and my husband is diabetic as well as only having one leg,” said Veronica Lilley, 71 in Estepona.
Peter Roberts, 72, in San Fulgencio, Alicante thought people heading to the coast would reignite the contagion. “Once the all clear has been given people that have the virus but self-isolated will leave their homes, this will restart the pandemic. Also all the second home owners will head for the coast.”
An empty terrace in Calvia, on Mallorca. Photo: AFP
The last thing anyone wants if for the current lockdown to have been in vain: “I believe we stand a better chance if we socially isolate for as long as it is needed. If we lift the restrictions too early the virus may continue spreading and the weeks of lockdown already endured will have been in vain,” said Christine Tull, 73 who lives in Macastre in the Valencia region.
Some admitted that their location in homes with gardens made the restrictions easier to bear.
Jill Robinson, 71, in Roses on the Costa Brava in Catalonia said: “I feel totally isolated but so thankful that I have a garden,” but she added: “I’m worried about others without gardens and the mental effect.”
David Stanley Axon in Comares, Malaga admitted that an extended lockdown would be to his benefit. “I’m 70 years old with a heart condition, high blood pressure, difficulty breathing under strain, oh, and I have a garden.”
Many respondents who felt lockdown should be continued in some form but with a loosening of restrictions, to allow people to go outside in a responsible way and to start up those businesses that didn’t pose too much of a risk.
“I think a better question would be about the extent of the lockdown,” explained Baxter Denney, 37 in Barcelona. “I think it should continue in some format but we should be able to exercise, meet friends privately in our houses, and generally be able to gather in small groups. NOT reopen everything.”
Some feel that although lockdown should continue for as long as necessary, at the very least, Spain should allow people to leave their home once a day to go for a walk or exercise, activity that is allowed in Spain and Germany.
“They need to let us walk once a day,” said Rachel, 29 in Tenerife. “I live in a block of flats in the Canary Islands. My flat is so so hot and I have no balcony. “The extent of the lockdown is very bad for everyone's mental health. They should allow you half an hour each day away from others.”
But there are some who thought it was time Spain started running again, before the economy was even further damaged.
Deirdre Carney, 41 in Madrid thinks that measures should be lifted to a degree: “Once the curve flattens the first time, we should follow Sweden's example and have stricter quarantine for the elderly and immuno-compromised if they so choose, but open up the economy by letting everyone else go back to work.
“We can still maintain social distancing measures, such as keeping people who can work from home at home, no gathering of more than 50, only serving coffee and drinks on terraces with spread out tables, and maybe still keeping children out of school through to September,” she said.
Dominque Jacquet, 46 in Orihuela Costa agreed: “Any longer the economy will even be more damaged. Keep the 65 plus and most vulnerable for two months more, and let the young and healthy outside again to restart the economy.”