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2021 blog

Spain’s Jan 2021 lock down

January, 2021

Here we are again, with extensive lock down measures in place. Following the holiday season which sees gatherings on December 25th (Navidad), 31st (Noche Vieja), January 1 and January 5-6 (Reyes), we found ourselves with a huge spike in covid 19 cases. Streets, department stores and some shops were crowded with shoppers on many other days, adding to the spread. Bars and restaurants took a huge share of the blame, despite distancing requirements that were largely observed and the outdoor seating so prevalent in most towns and cities year round, even when temperatures dip to near freezing.

Here in Valencia orders came down by the third week of January. Bars and restaurants can offer take out services only. Businesses must close by 6 pm, other than essential businesses such as pharmacies and grocery stores which can stay open.

The only people allowed in your residence are the people who live there. Unlike the first lock down, you can take walks and sit on a bench if you wish, but accompanied by no more than one person, who need not be in your household, a boon to those who live alone. Golf courses are rumored to be closed while cinemas are open, which does not make sense given one is outdoors and the other indoors. We received an invitation to an indoor concert at the Opera House to occur on January 29th from the Banda de Valencia, the city’s official band, noting that one person can enter at a time and seating is 50% of capacity of the 4400 seats. This is still too close for safety, in my reckoning, so I am unable to see the justification.

These measures are in effect until February 15. Today’s Las Provincias https://www.lasprovincias.es/ reports that new cases have dropped by 21% in the past 7 days. While hospitalizations are still up. that should change in the next week or two as this is a lagging factor.

In the meantime the vaccination campaign struggles for lack of product. The Ministerio de Salud reports that 191,000 have been vaccinated. Non-citizen residents covered by private insurance are entirely up in the air as to where they stand in the line. Our insurer told us that the vaccinations are entirely within the realm of the Ministerio de Salud. What documentation will they require from us when it comes time to receive the vaccination? Are we in the same line as citizens and go with our age and risk group? There has been no guidance, but we are not alone. The Ministerio de Salud has only issued a phase one guideline, which is vaccinations for nursing home residences and medical personnel.

In the midst of all this a post circulated via Facebook that people in this situation need a SIP in order to get a vaccine appointment. The link led to a page that invited people without a SIP to request one. However it also said to do so if you had symptoms and you would receive a call. Later a post came out from the British Embassy stating that this site was not a place to get an appointment for a vaccine, and in fact there is no such thing for anyone in Spain aside possibly from people who qualify to be in the first phase. The Embassy said they were passing along a message from the Ministerio de Salud.

By way of comparison with the US, Spain shows 59,000 case per 1M population, with the US showing 79,000. Spain’s deaths per 1M is 1236 versus 1336 in the US. In Italy, that suffered the first severe invasion in the EU, the results are better than both Spain and the US in numbers of cases per 1M at 41,640, while the death rate is higher at 1446, perhaps as a result of being first in line, suggesting that those who followed learned something from the Italian experience.

I’ll report more once these restrictions are eased.

By Gary Kirkpatrick

Artist and travel blogger.

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