Five ways Spain’s citizens are keeping positive under coronavirus lockdown

People are finding ways to have fun and support one another during self-isolation, writes Graham Keeley in Madrid

Sunday 29 March 2020 15:25 BST
People applaud from their balconies in Seville, Spain
People applaud from their balconies in Seville, Spain

After the Spanish government declared a state of emergency on 14 March, issuing a confinement order for more than 46 million people, residents have had to find novel ways to stay entertained and connected.

Volunteers have taken up sewing to make protective masks, television stars have employed Mozart to charm children, and neighbours have devised ingenious ways to share a drink of cider.

Sewing masks for the health service

Professional seamstresses in Posadas, a small town of 7,400 inhabitants near Cordoba in southern Spain, came up with the idea of turning their hands to make desperately needed masks.

Soon 80 volunteers in the town were sewing away to make masks.

Police come to collect them and take them to hospitals. The material was donated by the fashion label Palomo Spain.

“I am so moved and grateful to the people of the town. When this is over, we will celebrate it. Posadas has 7,400 people and we only know people by sight but this has brought us together,” Salud Navajas, a councillor, told The Independent.

The idea has caught on across the country, with Spaniards using any spare material to create the badly needed masks.

Connecting with neighbours over the balcony

Normally gregarious people, the Spanish are used to living their lives outside in bars, restaurants and on the beach, but the lockdown has forced them to be innovative about how they have fun.

In Asturias, northern Spain, cider is the most popular drink. When it is served in bars, it is usually poured into the glass from high above, a technique that requires some practice.

However, the lockdown did not stop neighbours in Cimadevilla, a small town, from sharing cider with friends living on a balcony below.

Accompanied by a traditional song called ‘Gijón, the soul’, the drinkers managed to enjoy their favourite tipple without flouting the restrictions imposed by the government.

Music has also helped connect people forced to self-isolate. In Barcelona, pianist Albert Gestoso played a version of the theme tune to Titanic and was soon joined by a saxophonist who lives nearby, but whom he had never met.

Finding ways to keep children busy

Ten million school children began their second week of online schooling, which has forced teachers to adapt fast to the new educational reality.

In some cases this means teachers must get their pupils to do slightly unusual tasks to hold their attention while there is no-one to physically watch over them.

Jacques Henrí, a 10-year-old pupil at Le Bon Soleil school in Barcelona, spent one day last week making a catapult to shoot table tennis balls as part of his art class.

“It is quite hard work online schooling at home. We do more work than we we would if we were at school as there is less chatting,” he told The Independent.

Once school is over, however, parents are faced with the headache of what to do with small children in sometimes cramped flats.

Guides for painting, playing board games or even playing music with the children abound.

Sheila Blanco, a voice coach on La Voz Kids, a Spanish television talent show for children, has set up an online masterclass to get younger viewers into the classics.

“If the internet had existed in their day, Mozart, like Bach or Wagner, would have used it to share share their music and if they could help during the time of a health emergency,” said Blanco.

Online activities

Domingo Sánchez Perez is more used to playing guitar with his pupils strumming along in front of him.

However, like many other self-employed workers, the 55-year-old guitar teacher has had to adapt to the state of emergency in the past two weeks.

“The lockdown has meant I have had to change the way I am giving classes using the technology which we all have at our hands. I am doing these online or by recording videos,” Sánchez, who lives in Gava near Barcelona, told The Independent.

He added: “This means making an extra effort for me and for the pupils. But I have seen that they are concentrating more in the classes and as they are at home they have more time to practise and are learning faster.

“This new situation is teaching us to understand, appreciate and value what we have.”

Exercise has also had to go online, now that jogging, cycling and even leaving the house are banned.

Not to be deterred, teachers of pilates, yoga and other keep fit classes have gone online to keep the nation fit.

In Madrid, firefighters even released their own online fitness video to keep Spaniards in shape.

Supporting the unemployed

Tens of thousands have lost their jobs – temporarily for now – as companies have laid off workers. Those worst affected are the self-employed and particularly the low paid.

However, appeals have been launched to help cleaners, nannies and odd-job workers who are now out of work until the crisis abates.

In Barcelona, one such appeal was launched for Sonia, a cleaner who worked for a series of friends.

The appeal read: “For those of you who have had Sonia to help you at home, babysit, dog/cat/house sit, I would like to propose that we start a fund to maintain her salary during this difficult time. She is head of the household and the expenses don’t stop while she is forced to stay at home.

She is a hardworking lady who supports two teenage children and a husband. She is always good natured and smiling despite the tough times that she has to go through.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in