The official opening of the border between Portugal and Spain on the 1st of July quickly brought an end to our brief period of freedom and the sanity we’d enjoyed after the State of Emergency was lifted from May 3rd. Eventually, we plucked up the confidence to eat at a couple of our favorite restaurants once they reopened with certain restrictions. The tables rearranged on the terrace to comply with the social-distancing regulations, chairs and tables sanitized after each customer left and all staff wore masks. We even organised a wonderful socially distanced meal with some dear friends.
We were also delighted to return to our favorite cafe a couple of times for coffee and a pastel da nata and some delicious chocolate gluten-free cake, rather than take a flask of coffee and a biscuit to one of our favorite places overlooking the sea.
Yes, the ‘new’ normal felt strange but we were gradually learning to adapt with a routine of masks, regularly sanitizing hands and social distancing became second nature. Life was gradually getting back to normal
The floodgates open …
The opening of the border brought herds of tourists from countries such as Spain, France, Germany, and The Netherlands etc. By mid-July, our new-found confidence floundered as there were just too many people for comfort. And, unfortunately, when some people are on holiday they leave their brains at home as some failed to remember COVID etiquette. But at least we could still meet with friends in the tranquility of our own space.
I was not surprised that Spain’s coveted airbridge with the UK, which meant that holidaymakers are not required to quarantine for two weeks on their return to the UK, would end in tears. You do not need to be an expert (when even experts can’t agree) to know how quickly COVID spreads and how fluid the NEW normal is.
Within weeks of the UK agreeing on the airbridge with Spain the rug was pulled and the UK imposed a two-week quarantine when the poor holidaymakers returned home.
By the end of July we were already surrounded by Spanish holidaymakers as a new wave of daily infections in Spain topped over 2000 cases in one day I felt despair. While I felt so sorry for UK holidaymakers who went to Spain, as per the special ‘airbridge’, I was not surprised.
My piggin’ knee
Then came the news of my long-awaited knee operation. Scheduled for the 13th of August the hospital informed me I must go into quarantine from the 27th of July prior to my COVID test. No going out unless absolutely necessary and certainly no meeting up with friends. I felt frustrated like an overwound spring but at least the hospital was taking the necessary precautions. Hubby will not even be allowed to visit so once he drops me at the front door with my suitcase and crutches until he is summoned to collect me … Takes a deep breath.
Over the last month, I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated when I watched the news, read Facebook or various newspaper reports that despite ALL the deaths across the world and new COVID infection spikes, that there are still many people who don’t want to wear a mask and believe social distancing does not apply to them. How hard is it to comply if it stops COVID-19 spreading?
Wearing a mask impinges on their civil liberties or they use the excuse I ‘can’t breathe’ or ‘x, y, z’ excuse. People even wear masks as ‘chin hammocks’.
I think Jonathan Pie sums up the situation rather eloquently (language warning).
I think it is probably more stressful living in a tourist area because of the transient nature of the population at any given time. While there has still only been seven reported cases to date in our area we have no real idea of the true figure with so many people passing through.
And so we move into August.