Today Spain has declared a state of emergency. We've already been under a state of alert for a day and there's been some speculation as to whether we'd follow Italy's example and quarantine the entire country. Cases of Covid-19 in Madrid and the north have been soaring; Andalusia, where I currently live, is the second-worst affected region.
What does that mean in practise? From Monday, the country's on lockdown for two weeks. People only allowed out of their homes for essentials - work, food shopping, visit to pharmacy. Schools, restaurants and bars closed. The government has the right to impose travel restrictions and requisition any resources it deems necessary.
Before the announcement, I was debating whether I should attempt a last-minute trip to Porto for a few days' research. Portugal has few cases but they are being very proactive and since Spain is rapidly on its way to mirroring Italy, there was no telling whether borders would be closed by Tuesday. The pandemic is going to decimate economies and wreck the travel industry, and as a freelancer with no sick pay or paid holiday leave, I was hoping to do as much work as possible before knuckling down in Cómpeta for an interminable number of weeks. There's an additional problem. Since a bout of pneumonia with complications almost killed me in 2017, I was diagnosed with chronic respiratory issues, and I fall into the high risk group. To put it very bluntly, my dilemma was this: if I travel now, I'll probably get sick, quite likely so sick that I'll be in intensive care. Given that in the weeks and months to come, would it be better to get sick now, while there are more ICU beds, or later? Will I get moderately sick and feel like crap for a week, or will I end up attached to a ventilator, unable to breathe without artificial assistance?
In the end, the decision is made for me. I will be in my village for the foreseeable future.