Great Britain

Benidorm local describes kids locked inside and exercise banned in extreme Spanish lockdown – so could the UK be next?

BENIDORM’S streets would usually be heaving with Brits on their Easter holidays right now, but instead the beaches lie empty and the bars are locked up.

Lockdown in Spain means something different to the UK - children haven’t left their homes in weeks, exercise is banned and there are even rules about what supermarket you can visit.

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The country, which has been one of the hardest hit in Europe, has now reported 146,690 cases of COVID-19 and 14,555 deaths as a result of the virus.

In comparison to Spain, Britain’s lockdown measures seem like a walk in the park - something that was banned there weeks ago.

President of Benidorm's British Businesses Association, Karen Maling Cowles told Sun Online Travel: “A lot of people don’t seem to be aware how strict it is in Spain.

“The children have been stuck in their homes for over a month, they aren’t allowed out at all - not even to the supermarket.

“Those who have dogs are allowed to walk them a maximum of 100m from their homes and no one goes out for exercise.

“I saw a clip on social media of a girl jogging recently and everyone from the tower block behind her was cheering the police as they slammed her to the floor.”

Brits are living under a much more relaxed version of lockdown, but the Health Secretary Matt Hancock this week threatened to ban all outdoor exercise if people don't follow the rules.

His threat came after photographs of people ignoring the lockdown measures and spending their weekends lying around sunning themselves emerged.

In Spain, the only time people are allowed to leave the house is to go on what are deemed as essential errands, like food and medicine shopping or to visit the bank - and they have to go alone.

But even then they face strict questioning by police and members of the army, who have checkpoints all around the town.

Karen said: “People are only allowed out alone - whether they are walking along the street or in the car - to places like the bank, the supermarket or the pharmacy and even then there are restrictions on where you can go.

“Everybody must shop at the supermarket closest to them and the police will check your receipt when they stop you on the street.

“If you went to a supermarket that was a bit further away, so you walked past one in order to get there, then you are fined.”

Britain’s supermarkets have already imposed measures to help curb the spread of the virus, like a limit on the number of people inside the stores.

But in Spain, each customer has their hands sanitised by a member of staff and is handed a pair of disposable gloves before they are allowed to enter.

Once inside, Karen revealed that shopping is only limited to the essential items, with aisles selling household goods like homeware cordoned off.

She said: “Food deliveries have continued, no other deliveries are taking place now, that has all stopped. If you fancy buying a blender while you’re at the supermarket, you can’t.

Much like in the UK, plumbers and builders were allowed to continue working for the first few weeks of the lockdown, but even they have now been told to stay home.

She added: “The plumbers and builders were allowed to keep working until last week but even they have to stay at home now, because the government felt that they needed to get the curve down more.”

But instead of fighting back against the rules, locals have mainly embraced the restrictions being placed upon them.

While the public are keen to get back to normal life, their main concern is getting the rate of infection down among the community.

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Karen said: “It’s very scary, coronavirus has hit Benidorm very hard - just yesterday 12 people died from it here.

“I know so many people who have lost their lives or who are seriously ill, most families have someone who has been affected by it.

“I personally don’t think we’re going to start recovering from this until June or July and even that might be a bit premature.

“None of my neighbours are sending their kids back to school this term, they’re all going back in September.

“British tourism I don’t see happening until September. We just want people to be safe.

Much like in Britain, the community has pulled together though.

Spanish-speaking Brits and English-speaking Spaniards have been on hand to translate for those who need it at all times of day and night, whether it’s for medical, housing or employment assistance.

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They also come together each night to say thank you to healthcare workers and also commemorate those who have lost their lives to the virus.

Karen said: “There have been lots of initiatives. Last Saturday, everybody did fancy dress, decorated their balconies and played music to thank the kids for staying in all this time.

“Every night at 8pm, we go out and bang pots and sing our thanks to the hospital workers and then at 9pm we all go out with candles to pay respects to those who have lost lives.”

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