From disinfecting the streets to zero-tolerance by police - one Sunderland woman's experience of Spain's strict lockdown

Fines of up to 600 Euros and only being allowed to go to the nearest shop or chemist – life in Spain under the coronavirus lockdown is tough.

Tuesday, 21st April 2020, 4:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 6:58 pm

While some rules are the same as the UK’s, with many businesses closed down under Government orders and social distancing, the restrictions put in place since March 15 are stricter, with no outdoor exercise allowed.

Spain has been hit hard, with more than 20,000 deaths and 200,000 cases recorded.

Here Gail McCabe, originally from Farringdon and a Spanish resident since July 2018, explains how it has had an impact on her life after the Jameson tapas bar she runs with her partner in San Luis de Sabinillas, in the Manilva region of Andalucia, had to stop trading due to the crisis.

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Gail McCabe moved to Spain in 2018 to run a bar with her partner.

She has been keeping in touch with family including, her mum Margaret Ellis and sons Newby Lee McCabe and Adam Reece McCabe.

From next Monday Spain’s children are to be allowed outside, but there are proposals to extend the country’s state of alarm to Saturday, May 9.

Here, Gail shares her experience of what it has been like so far.

She said: “While there was a distant drumbeat of COVID-19 stories, it wasn't until the week before March 15 it became a popular topic of conversation in the bar with customers and friends - although most were saying that it wouldn't impact on us.

The rules in Spain set out how people are only allowed to visit their nearest shop or pharmacy.

“We're only allowed to go out if visiting the nearest supermarket or pharmacy, only one person from the household and only one in each car and if you have a dog you're only allowed to take it a walk of 100 metres from home.

“The beaches and parks are closed, when entering supermarkets we're given gloves and hand sanitiser, and the strict two metres distance is enforced with red lines on the floor.

“The whole place is like a ghost town and if you do see anyone else, it’s usually workers in forensic suits disinfecting the streets three times a day.

“Sights like this and the army on the streets are both reassuring and intimidating.

Gail McCabe has shared her experiences of living in Spain under the lockdown there, where guards patrol the streets to enforce the rules and the streets are regularly disinfected.

“The Guardia Civil is on every street corner and you're frequently stopped to ask where you're going or where you've been, with a receipt or other proof needed of your visit.

“The police have a strict zero-tolerance approach, and some have been fined up to 600 Euros locally for not complying with rules.

“Of course, these steps are draining - mentally and physically.

“Some days I can't speak to friends and family as I feel too down, and of course, financially it's very difficult while all of the businesses are shut, as I'm self-employed and we've been offered no assistance yet.

Workers on the streets of San Luis de Sabinillas use disinfectant to clean the area.

“The main thing is that I'm safe and that I and those around me still have their health at the minute.

“The only thing I can say to those back home is that if you saw the stories of those impacted that we do here, you'd follow the advice.

“I believe if they don’t restrict movement more the UK will be in a very bad situation, probably worse than here, I’m sad to say.”

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Gail McCabe has said it is common to see guards on the streets of San Luis de Sabinillas as the rules are enforced.

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A photo taken by Gail McCabe of her area showing how quiet the streets are due to the restrictions.