‘We’re all in this together’: American describes lockdown in Spain, one of the world’s coronavirus hot spots

Marquise Francis
National Reporter & Producer
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The entire world appears headed toward a lockdown as more countries work to slow the spread of the coronavirus — which has now infected more than 350,000 people globally and led to more than 15,000 deaths as of Monday afternoon. Countries are closing their borders, shutting down nonessential businesses and encouraging people to keep at least 6 feet apart from one another.

Spain was one of the first countries to sound a state of alarm, on March 14. The restrictions were set to be lifted March 29. But Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told regional leaders during a teleconference on Sunday that he is seeking to extend the shutdown for another two weeks. Spain has the third most coronavirus fatalities of all countries, currently 2,206. Sánchez called the virus a “cruel disease.” “It’s an unprecedented challenge,” he said. “A challenge that has forced us to take exceptional measures.” Parliament will vote on the extension Wednesday.

Residents of Spain are coping as best they can with the rules and mandates. One of those people is Giselle Abinader, a HuffPost UX designer (HuffPost is a subsidiary of Verizon Media) who is studying abroad in Barcelona for a master’s degree in design. Being under quarantine in her flat during a pandemic was the last thing Abinader imagined she would have to deal with, she told Yahoo News in a video diary.

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“When I first came here I thought I was going to be spending weekends in London and Paris and Rome, and definitely all three of those are out of the question,” Abinader said. “There's no businesses open right now unless it is selling you supplies for you to stay in your house.” 

Abinader said some grocery stores have security guards outside who look like “bouncers” to enforce strict distancing rules and limit the number of shoppers inside. She said there are markers on the floor to separate shoppers on the checkout line. Small shops and bakeries, a big part of the Spanish culture, allow only one or two customers inside at a time as long lines form outside the stores. A friend of Abinader was ordered to go home by police as she was outside filming a project for class.

As adjustments to the shutdown continue to be made, Adinader says she continues to see the community come together. “Everyone supports the health care workers and the people who are doing deliveries and making sure supplies are in stock for all the people who have to stay home,” she said. “So there’s a round of applause every night. I think around 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. it kind of varies, but people last night were kind of clanking their pots and pans. ... There’s definitely a sense of camaraderie.”

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Even in these circumstances, Abinader believes people are working to deal with the pandemic as best as possible. “We’re all in this together, but everyone’s human,” she said. “We all know what it’s like to be cooped up in your house. And especially now everyone’s kind of trying to help each other out, but at a distance.”

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