Quarantine in Spain: When your own neighbors frighten you
Spain has begun Phase 0 of the de-escalation of the COVID-19 quarantine this week and already announced that there will be outbreaks. Why? The problem, they say, is the people.
I consider myself a lucky person, having a dog and a child who spends week in and week out of the house has freed me from living locked up for almost a month and a half — how long the strict confinement in Spain has lasted.
My brother and his partner, parents of a cat - one of those who does not get out - went for their first walk last weekend when the beginning of phase 0 in the country was announced and shifts were assigned by age so that citizens could get some exercise while still taking extreme precautions. My brother explained to me that they walked in a straight line for one kilometer and when they reached the beach, started crying.
With all the horror we've witnessed, images like that of a young couple on their knees, excited to be out in the open at last, do not stir anything in us. However, since Saturday, many Spanish citizens have had a similar feeling, as if this walk were the first of their lives.
Others, on the contrary, still get a twinge of fear every time they go out on the street, wondering if they should, and as is the case with my grandmother, who at 87 years of age has been confined and alone, it's sanctified to go out for two minutes around the block.
"Say they're a minority, or they might think we' re a country of savages."
Then there are those people who have confused the relaxation of the quarantine with the end of a long nightmare and act as if the 219,000 infected and more than 25,000 dead from the virus in the country were something that did not concern them. As if they or their families could not suffer the same fate.
I see them from the balcony coming and going in herds of happy families, who maybe before, didn't even think about going out with their friends for a group ride, but now they do it carefree. They play with their children without masks, chatting an inch away from each other, at all hours. They head with their backpacks on towards the beach, old people surrounded by children.
My partner says, "They're a minority." I have him behind me, repeating to me. "Say they' re a minority, or they might think we're a country of savages." Why is it that I always run into the same four "savages" he talks about? Will I be out at idiots' time? And I discover with horror that this quarantine has produced in me an enormous hatred towards certain types of people, hatred and disgust that turns against me.
I cling to one idea: They are not to blame. The state, which acts as a father and patron, has turned them into "old children" who rebel because they do not trust the government or the media. They trust what their stomachs tell them. But why?
I'm writing this on a hot Sunday. Just returning from the walk with my dog, dodging families with their backpacks heading for the beach. I walked that kilometer listening through my cell phone to the live intervention of the director of the Center of Emergencies and Sanitary Alerts, Fernando Simon, who said that new outbreaks are expected in the near future. Although it is impossible, said Simon, to measure the effect of this relaxation of the quarantine.
His appearances are daily, in which he appeals to the responsibility of citizens, to the civility of the people so that there will not be a new and fierce escalation, but he cannot assure that we will not again reach a peak of infection.
The State, which acts as a father and patron, has turned citizens into "old boys".
Today, Wednesday, we are voting on the extension of the state of emergency for a further 15 days. Officials want to prevent an economic and health crisis in which, moreover, we are already immersed. The Spanish media are echoing the confusion, acting as loudspeakers for one another. They feed back on political statements that contradict each other and on death pornography to increase their traffic of visitors.
Call it "chaos" or a "new normal." If there is anything we have gained from this pandemic, it is that it has portrayed us all.