Ninety-nine days after it started, Spain has finally ended its state of emergency. As of now, summer solstice day, there have been 293,018 Covid-19 cases and 28,322 deaths here in Spain. Those of us who survived this ordeal are glad it is over, of course, but we now wonder what will happen once the tourists start arriving from other European countries and other parts of Spain. Borders reopened today, 10 days before originally planned. Will these tourists bring the virus with them? How can beaches be kept safe given the huge crowds of people who go to them? We stay away from crowds and still haven’t eaten inside a restaurant when we go out to eat, only going to places with outdoor seating to minimize the risk.
In Spain, you are required to wear a mask in a public setting if you cannot keep 1.5 meters from other people. This requirement surely helps keep people safer but not everyone is following it. I went to La Zenia Commercial Center the other day, a huge outdoor mall with hundreds of shops, and half the small number of people who have ventured out that day were either wearing their masks under the chin or holding it in their hands. That was discouraging to see.
I was impressed by how the mall had been changed around to help people stay 2 meters apart. For example, the main seating area near the fountains in the center of the shopping center had been reconfigured. Now you cannot sit on comfy couches near other people. There were only 6 or 8 seats spaced several meters apart where tired shoppers could sit down. The water fountain itself, which kids used to run and play in during warm weather, was closed down. You couldn’t drink out of the water fountain by the toilets either as that was blocked off.
And when you use the bathroom, only every other sink is available to make sure people keep the appropriate social distancing while washing their hands. There were even instructions in Spanish on the mirrors about proper hand washing techniques.
I think having these signs and restrictions will help keep people safe. However, it’s also demoralizing to see how much things have changed at our local shopping mall. Being there didn’t bring me joy as it had in the past. Instead, I hurried to finish my coffee and pistachio nut ice cream while sitting on a bench wondering why so many people walking past me didn’t have their masks on. Going there didn’t seem worth the risk, despite all the precautions the center itself and individual shops had put in place. This pandemic is a bitch, especially for restaurants, bars, stores and other businesses trying to make money in order to survive. We are all wondering when things will return to normal, if ever.
Of course, it could be much worse. We could be living in the United States, our home country, where there are 2,330,769 cases of covid-19 and 121,983 deaths. These numbers are the highest in the world. Some people there think masks are an infringement of their liberty and they don’t wear them. Wearing masks versus not wearing them has become a political issue. Our dear leader says he won’t wear a mask so this carelessness on his part sets the tone for the nation. As far as he is concerned, wishful thinking matters more than science and all Americans are paying the price right now. See America Is Too Broken to Fight the Coronavirus https://nyti.ms/3fSzJPl
I was horrified to see photos of the rally he held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, yesterday, where thousands of people packed the venue and didn’t wear masks. A leader who cared about people wouldn’t have taken such a foolish risk. But Trump only cares about himself. I wonder why his followers don’t see that. Maybe his supporters will start having second thoughts once they or their loved ones come down with covid-19.
During Trump’s Tulsa speech, he said he ordered Covid-19 testing to be slowed down to reduce the number of reported cases since rising cases reflects badly on him. People were aghast that he actually said this. Of course, when word got out how badly this was perceived by the general public, White House officials claimed Trump was just kidding. Yeah, right. Nobody in the Twitter world believes he was kidding.