‘It’s sad but we keep in touch’: How foreigners experience the coronavirus in Spain

'It's sad but we keep in touch': How foreigners experience the coronavirus in Spain
Photo: Gabriel BOUYS / AFP
Being in Spain in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic has not been easy for the country's 300,000 foreign residents, writes Graham Keeley.
The arrival of a new baby is always a time for family to get together but for Anna Weers the lockdown has made this impossible.

Her second daughter Olivia arrived on March 1st, two weeks before Spain imposed one of the most drastic restrictions in the world to try to contain the coronavirus.

Six weeks later, she has not been able to show off her baby daughter to the wider family who live in Germany and other parts of Europe.

“It is a shame but obviously that has been impossible. It is a little sad but we are keeping in touch by video calls,” said Weers, who lives in Barcelona.

Her experience echoes that of the estimated 300,000 foreigners who live in Spain, whose contact with wider family has been put on hold – for now.

Telephone or video calls have had to make do but perhaps do not completely compensate for seeing loved ones face to face.

There is also a sense, from speaking to many people in Spain, that their attention is split between what is happening in their adopted country and their country of birth.

As the epidemic took hold in Spain, it left those of us living in here trying to impress the seriousness of the situation on relatives back in Britain.

For a time, the UK authorities did not seem to grasp the nettle – and neither did many people back home.

That has, thankfully, changed. Elderly parents and relatives who are classed as high risk have not ventured out for weeks.

Perhaps what remains the great unknown is when we will meet each other again. Trips back to the old country have been delayed and holidays to see the family also look doubtful this summer.

Even if you have your own family in Spain, it dawns on you that these are the moments when living abroad has its downsides. It is worse for some people who have stuck working in other parts of Europe.

Of course, it would be the same if you lived near your relatives in your own country.

But planning those journeys to see your parents or other family might prove hard.

By Graham Keeley

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