Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
Sharon Cain
Time for Life Correspondent
3:29 AM 21st March 2020

UK Holidaymakers Urged To Return Home As Hotels Close In Coronavirus Pandemic

Spain's death toll exceeds 1,300 as lockdown continues and country becomes 3rd worst affected globally.

Sharon Cain, our correspondent in Spain, reports on how the country has recorded its biggest one-day rise in fatalities as the number of registered deaths from COVID-19 surged from 235 on Friday to 324 today.

Deserted roads and streets are the norm in Spain’s lockdown. Images by Steve Hare
Deserted roads and streets are the norm in Spain’s lockdown. Images by Steve Hare
An eerie silence continues to hang over residential areas and roads as far as the eye can see with Spain marking its sixth day in lockdown to try to halt the pandemic’s relentless spread.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the country has overtaken Iran to record the third highest volume of cases globally as registered cases rose from 19,980 yesterday to 24,926 today.

Police cars with loudspeakers reminding everyone of the restrictions continue to patrol the streets of our town in the province of Alicante - where 5 people have died since yesterday - and where 24 of the 151 infected hospitalised patients are in intensive care.

We are all living under what is called ‘A limitation of the freedom of persons’ which restricts movement to the following:
Travel for food, medicine and basic products with only one person allowed in each car
Travel to work
Visits to health clinics and hospitals (for illnesses other than coronavirus)
Travel to care for children, dependents, the elderly and vulnerable

Dog walking is restricted to one person and close to homes
Dog walking is restricted to one person and close to homes
The shut down has taken its grip on schools, universities, bars, restaurants, beaches and shops selling anything but food and other basic staples. Public transport and rail travel have been reduced with closures impacting on leisure and sports activities such as cinemas, theatres, swimming pools and sports fields and centres.

Dog walking is permitted by one person only - as long as it is within five minutes of where owners live.

The challenges of social isolation have prompted stir-crazy residents to ask if they can take their neighbour’s dogs for a walk. It was likewise reported this week that police confronted a man in the northern city of Palencia attempting to defy the lockdown by taking out a toy dog on a lead.

The found flouting the regulations will be subject to fines of up to 30,000 euros.

With an estimated 300,000 plus English people living in Spain, concerns over their future following Brexit have been overshadowed by the coronavirus crisis.

UK holidaymakers are being urged to return home as hotels and tourist accommodation closes over the next week to try to halt the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile those on extended vacations with elderly parents and pets face tough decisions as flights are reduced and limited options include risking driving across Spain to board ferries to England.

Dominating everyone’s waking hour, any certainty as to when the country will return to normal remains pure speculation.

With the 15 day lockdown likely to be extended, even tougher times lie ahead as infections are expected to peak over the next few days.