Tapas bars open, cultural venues frequented, curfew at 10 p.m., and borders closed to 65 so-called high-risk countries, a brand new anti-covid hospital and under the fire of controversy, Spain cultivates contradictions. Men’s health is important, as is the country’s economic health. Thibault Lefèvre, major reporter for France Inter is returning from Madrid.
With incidence rates on the rise, it is one of the European countries hardest hit by the epidemic. Tourism, which is a key value of the economy, is devastated. 77% fewer tourists in 2020. What is more, 65 so-called at-risk countries have seen their conditions harden to access Spanish territory.
On January 22, the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, gave a firm speech: “Only mass vaccination will open the way to the normality that we all desire.” The objective is “to reach 70% of vaccinated before the end of the summer, which will allow Spain to be progressively better prepared to receive international tourists. “
Seen from the outside, we tell ourselves that Spain lives much the same daily life as France. This is not really the case. In Madrid, everything is open: bars, restaurants, cultural places, museums. A study for museums, in fact, even confirmed that no cluster had formed in art galleries subject to health protocols.
Clearly, life is almost normal, the “almost” means that everything closes at 9 pm and that the curfew is declared at 10 pm. When leaving work, people take the opportunity to walk, listen to the singers or street actors in the squares, have a drink, eat on the terrace. This new-found life has not escaped the notice of Europeans, primarily the French, who take advantage of the February holidays to spend a few days in Spain. Thibault Lefèvre has met a lot of them, rather young, rather come to have fun and change their minds. This is the old world found.
To listen to the authorities, the economic health of the country is just as important as the health of men. And these measures have not made the situation worse on the hospital front. Unlike France, the Spanish government is unable to put in place any aid mechanisms. For example, closing bars and restaurants is to condemn them to death and have a lasting effect on the country’s economy. It is not an option.
And a controversy has ignited the Spanish press: the construction of the Isabel Zendal hospital, an anti-Covid center in the suburbs of Madrid, built in less than 100 days for an exorbitant budget of 100 million euros. Why has this sum not been invested in the infrastructure already in place? The debate revolved around this question.
With a capacity of 1000 people, exhibition pavilions, white everywhere, vast openspace where the beds of the patients are aligned with high ceilings where steel pipes meander which extract the air 14 times per day to purify it. No visit is allowed in this hospital lost between wasteland and the airport. An important security service.
Thibault Lefèvre entered and left Zendal by ambulance. On his return from Spain, he does not hide his emotion. Tapas and laughter in the center, and in the distance, on the periphery, hidden and invisible, the sick under the resuscitation pipes.