“New normal” is one of those slightly annoying phrases that is everywhere at the moment, a bit like the word “unprecedented” was overused a few months ago! However, I’m not sure how else to describe this situation we’ve now found ourselves in, so “new normal” it’s going to be.
Here in Spain we’ve been on lockdown since 14th March and the lockdown in Spain has been much stricter than elsewhere (looking at you United Kingdom). Thanks to such a strict lockdown we are now coming out the other side, with hardly any deaths or new cases being recorded each week. The people of Spain have stuck to the rules really well, and the benefits are that we can feel comfortable and safe with going into this new normal way of life in Spain.
We’ve slowly come out of quarantine in phases, depending on how well each area has been doing with new cases and number of free hospital beds. There are four phases altogether, starting at Phase 0 and ending with Phase 3.
Phase 0 was the first part of lockdown where we weren’t allowed to leave the house for anything other than to go to the supermarket of pharmacy. There was no walks or exercising, and children couldn’t leave the house for any reason at all. If you want to read more about what this was like, check out my blog post about the start of lockdown in Spain.
Phase 1 started at the beginning of May with outdoor terraces of bars and cafes being able to open with limited capacity and social distancing in place, as well as some places of work being allowed to open again such as estate agents and solicitors. We could also visit family and friends in groups of 10 which meant we could get together with my parents and Little H could see her friends. We could only stay within our ‘healthcare zone’ (based on the area covered by the local hospital) so could visit local towns and villages but not go too far afield. There were also time slots for walks and exercise, these were dependent on age (different times for the elderly/vulnerable and for children) though towns with less than 5,000 inhabitants such as ours had no time slots. Even then we couldn’t go for a walk as a family, only one parent with the children.
In Phase 2 shopping centers were allowed to open as well as beaches and communal swimming pools – something we had been longing for! We could also now travel anywhere within our province of Alicante, though we have just stayed local so far. The wearing of facemasks was introduced and must be worn in all indoor public places such as shops and banks, on public transport, as well as outside if you cannot maintain a distance of 2 meters from other people. Time slots for exercise were scrapped for all age groups and we could go out for a walk together as a family again.
Phase 3, the last phase, starts in the Valencian region today – some areas of Spain have already been in Phase 3 for a week such as Malaga but others such as Madrid will have to wait longer. The main changes are that we can now travel within the whole Valencian community, businesses can open their premises to more customers at a time, and all play parks are open again.
The State of Alarm in Spain ends on 21st June and this brings the end of the phases, though there will still be some restrictions in place such as wearing of facemasks and other health & safety measures. Wearing facemasks is going to be a part of the new normal way of life in Spain for the forseeable future so if you’re planning a holiday to Spain later this year, make sure you read up on this and bring masks with you – fines of up to €1000 are in place for those not sticking to the rules. The quarantine period of 14 days for international visitors to Spain also ends with the State of Alarm, so when international travel starts up again on 1st July you won’t have to quarantine when entering Spain.
We’ve quickly got used to the new normal way of life in Spain, wearing facemasks in over 25°c and hand santising every time you enter and leave a shop, bar or restaurant is annoying but something we’re used to doing now. It’s a small price to pay to get out and about again, especially when we can still remember only too well not being able to leave the house at all for months.
Kids under 6 years old don’t have to wear facemasks, but most children seem to be taking it in their stride and accepting that this is a way of life, at least for now. Maybe they too are just happy they can go out again after 8 weeks locked indoors!
Sports and exercise classes have started up again with limited numbers and space between people. Little H’s karate and dance classes started again 2 weeks ago and it was so nice for the kids to be able to get together again. Lines have been taped on the floor and the children have to stay within their ‘box’. They have to wear facemasks to go in and out of class, but can take them off once they’re in. Hand sanitiser on the way in and out, and they can only take a water bottle in with them, no snacks or extra bags.
Beaches are quiet at the moment, without tourists there’s plenty of space for people to spread out. There are lots of rules in place on using the beaches – 4 meters between groups on the sand, 2 meters between other people in the sea, no inflatable lilos, no smoking, use the signposted entrances and exits. Beaches are being patrolled and fines will be issued to those breaking the rules – though they do usually give a warning first. The Costa Blanca is even employing 1,000 people to be wardens on the beaches this summer to help people understand what they need to so. Some beaches such as Torrevieja are also implementing a booking system to make sure beaches don’t get overcrowded during the summer. The rules do vary between the different areas of Spain as they are set by each region, so make sure you know what’s what before visiting.
School finishes for the summer holidays next week, although it’s pretty much already over as the last couple of weeks is just teachers doing grading and no new work for the kids. We don’t know for sure when school will officially start again but everyone is still aiming for September. It looks as though classes will have to be split into no more than 15 kids. Up to 10 years old won’t have to wear facemasks or socially distance from each other at school, and these younger children will be kept apart from the older ones. At this point I think both the kids and teachers will put up with anything to just be able to get together again!
The municipal swimming pool in our village opened for summer at the weekend, with an online booking system to limit the number of people in the pool at once. Unfortunately this means no pool parties or inflatables this summer but I’m sure the kids will just be excited to see their friends again. We’re already trying to arrange days and times for groups of school friends to meet up at the pool, we’ll just have to limit it to small groups this year.
All fiestas have been cancelled which is one of the most disappointing things for many people. Fiestas are a huge part of life in Spain and each area spends the year planning the fiestas in their town or village. There are normally parades, carnivals, water fights, foam parties, crazy car races, BBQs, giant paellas, bonfires on the beach, fireworks, and so much more throughout the summer. It’s a shame that there will be none of this fun this summer, but I’m sure next year’s will be even bigger with so much to celebrate!
So, as you can see, life is gradually getting back to normal here in Spain even if there are a few changes compared to what we’re used to. If you had planned a holiday to Spain this summer I hope you still get to visit and also that I’ve reassured you that the new normal way of life in Spain isn’t scary!
I hope life gets back to normal wherever you are soon. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more updates of what’s happening in Spain.