In Spain We’ve Been In Lockdown For Weeks – And I Promise You It Gets Easier

Elizabeth Bennett
Courtesy of the author

When I moved to Barcelona last autumn, I pictured long wine-filled evenings in squares and trips to the beach. I didn’t imagine weeks spent inside my flat isolating from a global viral pandemic.

On Sunday 15 March, the Spanish government announced a two-week lockdown to stop the rapid spread of coronavirus. The public were ordered to stay at home unless they needed essential food or medicine. Schools, universities, restaurants, bars and public spaces were all to be closed. 

The Spanish are a very sociable bunch, and an enviable climate means much of life is spent outdoors. All year round in my neighbourhood, bars keep their doors swung open and people sit outside at restaurants. Every morning and afternoon, like clockwork, a crowd of children and their families gather at the school gates to gossip, eat pastries and play games. 

But when I ventured out last Monday, the first official day of lockdown, the city looked like a very different place. There’s something very odd about seeing a bright blue sky and a completely empty city beach but it was the ghost-like streets that were even weirder. A few people were out running errands but the majority were wearing masks and gloves. At the big supermarket, I was met with a security guard monitoring the queue with a ‘one in, one out’ policy you’re more used to seeing at some exclusive nightclub. I passed a pharmacy where medicine was handed to customers through a small hole in a screen.

The first week was really difficult. The situation escalated very fast and as all upcoming plans fell through...

The first week was really difficult. The situation escalated very fast and as all upcoming plans fell through – including a visit from my parents and an upcoming holiday to Colombia – I struggled to look forward to a completely clear diary. I read the news obsessively in an attempt to understand what the hell was going on and when on earth it would end. The thought of staying in my flat for the foreseeable felt...

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