It is now a month since ‘We saved Christmas’ with the consequent rise in contagion levels to today’s gloomy (and frightening) figures across Spain of around 900 cases per 100,000. Saving Christmas meant allowing us to go shopping, to gather together as a family over the special days of Christmas and New Year and to stop off for a merrie flagon of mulled wine or two at the corner bar, with a few rowdy friends.
The bar- and restaurant-owners have had it bad these past ten months. Social distancing, their interior spaces sometimes closed entirely, or with only meals to go, high-rents and low-income, and their margins have been holed under the waterline. Many have closed for good.
We – the poor suffering consumers – are assailed by unhappy bar-owners on the TV news most days – as if it were somehow our fault that we no longer support their establishments.
Honestly, I shout at the TV screen, it’s not you – we just don’t want to get sick.
**A map here shows how Spain is doing – with 42 million people in the 44 provinces that are currently over 500 infections per 100,000. In Andalucía, it’s now at 915 (Wednesday) and the city of Almería (where I live) is at 1,325.
So, no, I’m not going to have a drink in the local pub.
As Fernando Simón (the Government’s expert on pandemics) says ‘nobody goes to a bar to sit in the corner by themselves’.
This point of view is in line with the Government’s focus on the hospitality sector, which is evidently partially responsible for the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are those who say this is all a plot of some sort, and a demonstration was held this past Saturday in a rainy Madrid in support of this theory. ‘Several hundred people without masks demonstrate against the vaccine’, says MSN here.
Two years ago, La Sexta reported that there was a higher density of bars and restaurants per capita in Spain – at 175 inhabitants per establishment – than any other country in the world. This figure will now have been sharply readjusted downwards.
In the hope that, when this is all over, our old habit of a friendly beer in the neighbourhood saloon will return.