Freedom post Covid 19
Electric excitement is in the air this week as COVID 19 restrictions were lifted and we felt a surge of freedom. On Friday Gibraltar was put on the green list for travel from the U.K. without having to quarantine when you return to the U.K. Spain also opened the provinces and people could reunite with family and friends. On Saturday night the curfew was lifted and we could have friends over to our homes, no longer limited to 6 people.
We were dancing Saturday night at a beach bar in Sotogrande while a tropical rain storm thundered above, it started raining but no one cared. Words cannot describe the atmosphere and emotion that we all shared.
For the last year we have had to keep our distance without making contact, but if anything the pandemic has bought us closer. Neighbourhoods that did not know each other now care for one another, as we supported one another through this emotional roller-coaster. The fear, the loneliness for some, the financial worry for others, the ever changing regulations as the Government tried to find a balance between protecting people’s health and keeping society alive.
The 2020 Lockdown in Spain was severe. In Spanish it was called the “confinamiento” which means “confined”. For more than 8 weeks people were not allowed out of their homes other than to buy food and medical supplies or go to the hospital one at a time. Only real essential workers could go to work. We were not allowed to exercise outside in public, children were not allowed to play outdoors. Many people in Spain live in small apartments and could not leave their homes at all. We started making improvised gymnasiums in our living rooms to try and keep fit and sane. One woman ran an entire marathon on her balcony. Neighbours would take it in turns one by one to walk the same dog the 50m you were allowed to go from the door of the apartment block if you had a dog. Any excuse just to be outside and see the sky for a short while. Others walked around the underground basement car parks in the dark just to get some exercise. Lovers who did not live together could not see each other. Police and military controlled the roads and streets, and the fines got bigger as time went on. The streets were like a ghost town and animals from the wild started to explore with curiosity. Dolphins came into the marinas to see why no one was coming to visit them.
But through all this there was a feeling that we were all in this together and we would work together and beat it. We felt obliged to help each other out. Those who had youth and health on their side would go shopping for those who were older, or living with their elderly parents so did not want to take any risks. We networked online to make sure people living on their own didn’t get too lonely. We reassured the single mum, trying to home school 3 kids and work full time with just a laptop in a 45m2 apartment, that she was doing a really good job. And when friends lost loved ones or had to fight this awful virus we tried to help them through it ,when all they really wanted was a hug and that was the one thing we couldn’t give them.
Then finally the 1km freedom came. At last the children could get outdoors, but no more than 1km from their home and only set times. So the older generation could go out for a walk in the morning and the kids in the afternoon. This was a breath of fresh air and a life saver for the mental health of a nation that spends most its time outdoors, so to be indoors for such a long time was completely alien to them. This is a nation that kiss each cheek when they meet each other.
Gradually the restrictions eased and restaurants opened so people could dine al fresco. We were allowed to travel within our own municipal/town but still had to keep distances and respect the space of others, we tip toed out. First we went to the countryside and breathed in nature with the sweet smell of spring flowers. By summer we thought it was all over, then came the second wave. This time it was closer to home, it had spread from the cities to Andalucía and then it became a numbers game. The lower we could keep the numbers down the more freedom we were allowed. Millions of whatsapp messages would ping as soon as regulations eased or became stricter. There was envy from one area to the next, who had more freedom? By September the kids went back to school, Grandparents were again advised to keep away from their Grandchildren, which was tough. But this was a war, us against the virus, and we had to be practical.
Finally the vaccine came and Gibraltar was fast to distribute. This gave us hope that 2021 was going to be a good year. We had survived.
So when this new freedom was announced this weekend we just had to celebrate. Maybe mother nature was trying to teach us a lesson in 2020. To show us how completely vulnerable we are to nature. You only have to be out in a strong breeze at sea to know that!