OPINION: What’s the first thing you’ll do when Spain’s lockdown is lifted?

OPINION: What's the first thing you'll do when Spain's lockdown is lifted?
A walk on the beach is top of the list. Photos: AFP
Sue Wilson of Bremain in Spain considers what life will be like when lockdown in lifted.

As the numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths now thankfully seem past their peak, we’re starting to hope that an end to the lockdown is in sight. Dare we start to believe that Spain has flattened the coronavirus curve? Have we passed the worst stages of the pandemic?  

On Wednesday April 8th, María Jesús Montero,finance minister and government spokesperson, said that the government hoped to loosen lockdown measuresin “progressive stages” from April 26th.

This statement was later retracted by Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, who said it was too soon to consider lifting the restrictions. The government is reportedly “not discarding” the idea of now prolonging the quarantine until May 10th.

After so many horror stories and so much bad news, it’s tempting to grasp at any glimmer of light, no matter how distant. Despite the lockdown being stringent, we’re grateful for the measures implemented by the Spanish government.

Although there has been criticism of the way the crisis has been handled, the government measures have provided reassurance during a worrying time.

Although the Covid-19 trajectory is still frightening, watching the death rate gradually decline brings some comfort. The lockdown measures have been necessary and are proving effective. The price we pay by staying at home is as nothing when compared to the sacrifices made by others.

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No doubt the lockdown itself has been more difficult for some to deal with than for others. For all of us, though, it has given us pause to reflect on what is important. What have we missed the most? What have we realised we can, or can’t live, without? And what can’t we wait to do at the first available opportunity?

We asked members of Bremain in Spain what they were most looking forward to when lockdown ends – not just the big stuff, but the small stuff too.

Unsurprisingly, the ability to go places came high on the list, but it wasn’t foreign holidays that most yearned for – it was a walk on a local beach or in the countryside. In most cases, the company was as important as the destination – the opportunity to go out with the family, or take the dogs for a long walk, was high on everyone’s priority list.

After weeks of relying on home cooking, it was surprising how few mentioned going out for a slap-up meal. Although a few of us crave someone else’s menu for a change, most were more interested in enjoying a coffee, or perhaps a tapa or two, in their favourite local bar, and just watching the world go by.


Beach cafes across Spain are empty, like this one in San Sebastian. Photo: AFP 

A large part of the attraction of going out for a drink was, of course, the company. Living in Spain has made us a more sociable bunch. While we’ve all missed our friends, being apart from our extended families has been perhaps the hardest sacrifice of all.

Despite having spent so much time up close and personal with our families, we’re not in a hurry to distance ourselves from them – only from our homes. Our limited trips outdoors have been made alone. Now the idea of even a simple trip to the supermarket, with family in tow, has taken on new meaning.

A common theme was the idea of getting back to ‘normal’ – whatever normal might look like when this is all over – and a real appreciation of the simple pleasures in life. Of course, there’s a place for a little luxury in our lives and for treating ourselves, but taking pleasure in nature and the fresh air, for example, can be just as luxurious as a slap-up meal or a spa visit.

As we’ve had the opportunity to rethink what’s important to us, we’ve also considered what constitutes a necessity. Who knew, for example, that simple things like getting a haircut would feature so highly? Whilst there are probably a few new amateur barbers amongst us, I suspect many will soon be made redundant in favour of a return to the professionals!

If there’s one thing above all other that we’ve missed though, it’s physical contact. The Brits in Spain dropped handshaking, except in the most formal of situations, practically as soon as we got off the plane. We have adopted the Spanish custom of kissing both cheeks, with gusto. Even more so, we’ve embraced the hug, literally.

At a time when we’ve been forced to adopt social distancing measures for our own sake and others, I’m really looking forward to that first bear hug with my mum, my friends and just about anyone I meet! So be warned, whoever gets there first, you might just have to prize me away.

Besos y abrazos a todos!

By Sue Wilson – Chair of Bremain in Spain

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