Thursday, June 04, 2020

Going to the beach

Guardamar beaches are open but you MUST obey the rules if you go there.

I think they should make some of those rules permanent. E.g, stop people going down at the crack of dawn to set up camp only to then saunter down about midday. 

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

IKEA Warrington

They opened the store yesterday, just look at the queue to get in. 

Monday, June 01, 2020

The new rules




Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Were you convinced?

I listened to Dominic Cummings press briefing yesterday. Was I convinced by his story? No, not at all.

He tried to come over as a caring husband and father making difficult decisions to protect them. Unfortunately there were  far too many holes in his story to make it convincing

We all saw Cummings run out of 10 Downing Street. That was apparently in response to a phone call from his wife to say she was ill with suspected coronavirus symptoms. When he got home she felt better so he returned to work. Mistake number 1. If you or any of your family suspect symptoms of the virus, you must self isolate for 14 days. You should definitely not go back to work.

Cummings claimed  there was nobody in London he could turn to for help with childcare. Yet, his brother-in-law lives nearby and surely there must have been others who could have helped.

He says that he did not inform the PM of his intentions until a week later when they had a conversation over the phone. How many of us would simply walk out of our job, take ourselves to another part of the country without at least informing the boss? In fact, since Cummings claimed he was not ill, it would have been more appropriate to ask permission. If Johnson was too ill, he could have spoken to Dominic Raab.

Cummings obviously thought he was too important to the Westminster machine to stay way for too long so he decided to return. However, he claims to have had concerns about his eyesight so he drove to Barnard Castle on the day of his wife's birthday to see if he was safe to drive. Unfortunately he was spotted there otherwise we would probably have been none the wiser about this excursion. Actually, it beggars belief  that anyone who thought they might be unsafe to drive would go out for a drive to check - surely he could have come up with a better story than this.

He claimed that his wife was not insured to drive the Discovery and yet we do know that she does drive and in any case, it would have taken a five minute phone call to get cover for her so she could drive back to London rather than him.

On the way back from the trip to Barnard Castle, his son needed the toilet so they stopped and  got out of the car.  Coincidentally, they didn't need to make a similar toilet stop on the journey from London to Durham nor on the return. In fact they didn't even need to stop for petrol until the return when he had a vague recollection of calling in at a service station.

The get out clause in the regulations that he said allowed him to drive to Durham did not exist until after his return. The original clause about children referred specifically to children in danger of abuse.

Both Cummings and No 10 claimed that the police had no knowledge of what had happened until after Durham Police confirmed that a phone call had been made to Mr Cumming's father regarding his son's presence at the home.

Even his claim to have warned about the possible threat of a coravirus on his blog does not hold water because the sentence that he referred to was added much later.

Both he and the PM have sat on this story for 5 weeks knowing that it was controversial. Clearly they hoped that it would go away and did not count on witnesses seeing Mr Cummings out and about.

When pressed time after time during the briefing, Cummings insisted that he had nothing to apologise for and was certainly not going to resign.

Should we believe his story? Given the whopping big lie he created about 350m for the NHS during the referendum that he later admitted to, I don't think so.There are more holes in this story than in a Swiss cheese.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Did it spoil your peace?

Those of you who were at home today, especially those that were outside, will have probably heard the disco blaring away and may have wondered where it came from.

It was my neighbour in the house previously owned by the Woodens.

I can only conclude that he must be deaf. Not only was the music loud, they were shouting at the top of their voices. I hope it didn’t spoil your day.

From the local police

IMPORTANT NOTICE!!!

Following the new BOE update for the easing of several restrictions established in Phase 1, our municipality DOES NOT meet the basic requirements.

Despite having less than 10001 inhabitants, BIGASTRO has a much higher population density than the maximum required to move on to the next phase.

Therefore:
SCHEDULES FOR WALK AND SPORT STAY THE SAME. Just like the rest of Phase 1. restrictions

We also recommend not listening to releases that are not from official agencies as they can be contradictory and confusing.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Monday, May 18, 2020

High speed

As you know, we have three different fibre optic cable connections to choose from at Villas Andrea.

The original one was installed by Bitel and did not enjoy widespread take up.

Since then, Telfy and Vega Fibra have installed fibre cables.

They both offer something slightly different:

Telfy offer 100Mbs for 19.95 Euros per month,  300Mbs for 25.72 or  600Mb for 34.90. Vegafibra offer 600Mbs for 24.90 per month and 1000 Mbs for 29.90 (all prices plus tax).

They both  offer other packages which include combinations of  a landline, Internet , a mobile phone and local TV. at varying prices

As an incentive, Vega Fibra offer free installation and the first three months free if you sign up for an 18 month contract. I don't believe that Telfy offer anything similar.

I opted for the gigabit package from Vega Fibra and took advantage of their free installation/free months offer.

To be honest, 1000Mbs is over egging the pudding by quite a margin. In fact, 100Mbs is sufficient, even if you are streaming video. My friend in Liverpool says that his school has  550 computers sharing a 1Gbs connection without issues.

How would I rate Vega Fibra? I would give them 10/10. The engineer arrived on time and installed the connection without fuss.

However, I wanted something different to the norm, I wanted the supplied Huawei router to act  just as a modem to my wi-fi router in the room where my computer is located. The installer did not have the knowledge to make this work so I called Vega Fibra who sent out an engineer who did understand what I wanted and was able to achieve it.

One week later, the connection has remained rock solid and is as close to the maximum contracted for as possible.


As you will know, the actual speed is governed by factors other than your connection so my surfing experience has not dramatically changed. I am however confident that the bottleneck will never be at my end. Also, uploading pictures and videos will be dramatically improved.

Would I recommend Vega Fibra? On the basis of the service I received, yes - without reservation. Am I being sponsored by Vega Fibra? No, definitely not.


Sunday, May 17, 2020

From Monday - Phase 1

Activities in Phase 1

Mobility. Citizens can move around their province or island. All members of a family who live together can travel in a vehicle. People can travel to, and stay in, second residences if they are in the same province.

Business. Businesses with premises measuring under 400 square meters can open without customers having to make prior appointments. Establishments that are over 400 square meters can delimit an area within their premises to attend to customers. Shopping malls will remain closed. A timetable for the over-65s must be established.

Shows and cultural centres. Theatres, cinemas and museums will be able to open, limiting capacity to a third, with a maximum of 30 people at shows where the audience is seated. Libraries will open with the same conditions, but just for the lending and return of books.

Social meetings. Up to 10 people can meet, but observing social distancing and using masks, both in homes as well as in a public establishment, or during, for example, an excursion in the countryside. People in vulnerable groups, such as seniors or those with health conditions, are not excluded, provided they take adequate protection measures.

Bars and restaurants. Bars and restaurants are permitted to open their street cafes, limiting capacity to 50% and prioritising single-use objects.

Places of worship. Churches and other places of worship can reopen at a third of their capacity. Objects must not be shared, and if praying takes place on the floor, each person must bring their own mat.

Sporting activities. Individual training sessions are permitted for elite and federated sports persons. Sports centres can open with prior appointment, with limited capacity to ensure social distancing. The use of locker rooms and showers is not allowed.

Education centres. Schools and other places of learning can open for essential tasks, such as maintenance.

Social-health centres. Remote assistance is given priority, but these centres can reopen if they need to offer attention in person

Walks and other exercise. The timetables remain in force, but as before, these are not applicable in areas with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants.

Tourist accommodation. Hotels and other tourist accommodation can reopen all of their rooms, but common areas cannot be used.

Street markets. Open-air markets are allowed with 25% of usual stands and a third of normal capacity.

Fishing and hunting. Both hunting and sports fishing can restart.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Let's compare

I know that the medical experts in the UK tell us each day that it is impossible to compare data from different countries because they have different ways of reporting. Even still they show us a graph to compare these figures. 

England reported 210 new deaths yesterday and a total of 32,692. There were 3,403 new cases.

Spain reported 176 new deaths yesterday and a total of 26,920. There were 426 new cases reported by PCR tests.

Make of that data what your will.

Don't get fined

Whilst you are out and about shopping etc you may be stopped by the police.

They will want to know where you have come from i.e. where you live.

If you are outside of your health zone, they will tell you to return home.

They will also ask to see some form of ID.

If you claim to have been shopping, they will want to see a till receipt as proof.

You may be lucky and get away with breaking the rules but then again, you may not and be fined. 

Remember that Bigastro is in the Orihuela health zone and so you should remain within those towns on the left hand side of the list I posted on Monday. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Well that's clear then.

New rules for the UK explained:
* 4 year olds can go to school, but university students who have paid for the tuition they haven’t had and the accommodation they aren’t living in, can’t go to university.
* A teacher can go to school with many 4 year olds that they are not related to, but can’t see one 4 year old that they are related to.
* You can sit in a park, but only after Wednesday.
* You can meet one person from another household for a chat or to sunbathe, but not two people so if you know two people from another household you have to pick your favourite. Hopefully, you’re also their favourite person from your household or this could be awkward. As you can’t go closer than 2m to the one you choose anyway you wouldn’t think having the other one sat next to them would matter - unless two people would restrict your eyeline too much and prevent you from being alert.
* You can work all day with your colleagues, but you can’t sit in their garden for a chat after work.
* You can now do unlimited exercise and you can even drive to the place for your exercise but not if that means crossing the border into Wales,Scotland or N Ireland.
* You can drive to other destinations, although which destinations is unclear.
* The buses and trains are still running but you shouldn’t get on one if it means being closer than 2m from others.. You should either cycle or walk instead.
* You should wear a face mask in public places but you don't have to. Your mask must not be one used by the NHS or other keyworkers. Instead it should be made from something like a T-shirt or a vacuum cleaner bag.
* It will soon be time to quarantine people coming into the country by air... but not yet. It’s too soon. And not ever if they're coming from France.
* Our youngest children go back to school first because... they are notoriously good at not touching things they shouldn’t, maintaining personal space at all times and never randomly licking  their teacher.
* We are somewhere in between 3.5 and 4.5 on a five point scale where 5 is all of the virus and 1 is none of the virus but 2,3 and 4 can be anything you’d like it to be really. Some of the virus? A bit of the virus? Just enough virus to see off those over 70s who were told to self isolate but now we’ve realised that they’ve done that a bit too well despite us offloading coronavirus patients into care homes and now we are claiming that was never said in the first place, even though it’s in writing in the stay at home guidance.
* The slogan isn’t stay at home any more, so we don’t have to stay at home. Except we do. Unless we can’t. In which case we should go out. But there will be fines if we break the rules. So don’t do that.
Don’t forget...
Stay alert... which Robert Jenrick has explained actually means Stay home as much as possible. Obviously.

Travel to Spain

The current rules for the state of emergency are due to last until the 24th May. From the 15th until then, there will be a quarantine period of 14 days for people entering Spain.

Anyone coming into Spanish territory from another country will have to remain inside their home or rented lodgings. Trips outside will be limited to the purchase of essential products such as food and medicine, to seek medical assistance, and for other situations of urgent necessity. Face masks must be worn at all times.

Cross-border workers, long-haul truckers, air crews and health professionals on their way to work are left out of the quarantine order, as long as they have not been in contact with anyone diagnosed with Covid-19.

Health authorities may contact individuals in quarantine to check on their health status, and anyone who develops symptoms is instructed to call the regional health services.

Travel agencies and transportation companies will have to inform prospective customers about these requirements when travel arrangements are made. Airlines will provide customers with a Passenger Location Card that passengers must have with them when they enter Spain.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Where you can go

In Phase 1 you can move about within your health area.

Just to be clear, we live in the Orihuela health area so we can visit the towns in the left hand list.

We are prohibited from visiting towns in other health areas such as the one for Torrevieja.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

To put it another way


Phase 1




Headless chickens

The UK Government are running around like headless chickens trying to sort out what to do about coronavirus. The Tory party are split between those who advise extreme caution and those who want to get the economy moving again - the so called "doves" and "hawks".  The worry is that, if Johnson can't control his party, how is he going to control the country?

The PM is due to speak to the nation at 7pm UK time setting out his battle plan for Stage 2. Much of it has already been leaked with today's papers reporting what they assume to be the salient points.

1 The Mail says that the much touted message, "Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Live"s will be changed to "Stay Alert, Control the Virus and Save Lives".

2 The Mail also suggest that people will be allowed outside more than once per day and garden centres will be open from Wednesday.

3, We do know that  there will be a push to return to work where it is safe to do so. However, the transport system will have to operate with reduced capacity to maintain social distancing which means that people are being encouraged to either walk or cycle to work with a 2bn pound plan from Grant Shapps.

4. Everyone will now be encouraged to wear masks in public places including work places. 

As I see it, the problem is that the number of new cases each day is still very high along with the death rate that follows it. There are still major problems with the supply of protective clothing and issues around completing the target number of tests. Added to which, Germany has seen a rise in infections following their easing of restrictions and South Korea, which was infection free, has recorded 24 new cases.

As for cycling to work, I can tell you from personal experience that buying a bike for those who don't already have one will be virtually impossible. It took me a lot of effort to find bikes for both my grandson and my daughter a few weeks ago. Those that I found are no longer available. Unless you are prepared to pay hundreds of pounds, you are going to be out of luck.

Whilst there have been many mistakes along the way and a subsequent inquiry will likely unveil where the government went wrong, at this time we need them to lead and prevent further damage. Whatever Johnson proposes today, let's hope he gets it right.




Friday, May 08, 2020

Virtually yours

Since we cannot have real exhibitions, Bigastro has created a virtual one on the town's web pages.  

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

A change to the rules


Changes have been made to the rules about travelling.

On public transport you are obliged to wear a mask. The Town Hall has a supply of masks to hand out for those who need them.

In cars and other forms of private transport, you can now sit next to each other but there should be no more than four people altogether in the vehicle. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

San isidro

We will also be missing the Romeria where pilgrims bring the statue of San Isidro up from the church to the Hermitage at La Pedrera and then party until dusk.

San Isidro 2009-2019

Holy Cross

We missed the fiesta at Holy Cross last weekend so I thought I'd make a video of photos taken over the years.

My photos from the past.

Pure air

With fewer cars on the road, less demand for electricity and virtually no aircraft flying, the air is a lot cleaner

The new normal

Shops that are smaller than 400m2 can now reopen.

However, you have to have an appointment to visit them and they must be able to guarantee that you can maintain social distancing.

Where possible, there should be screens to protect customer from shopkeeper.

You can only visit local shops not those in neighbouring towns.

Senior citizens should be given preference to visit these shops during the hours that they are allowed outside.

Shops must disinfect twice a day and wash their uniforms/work clothes daily at between 60 and 90 degrees centigrade. 

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Freedom!!


Just look at the bar chart at the top and you can see how this plan is designed to avoid contact between groups of people and thus transmission of the virus. We seniors have the shortest slots but to be fair they are more than adequate.

Towns smaller than 5,000 residents have no restrictions. Bigastro, with 6,733 residents does have restrictions.


Thursday, April 30, 2020

And so we go on

Can't believe my luck! In the last two days, I've had a voucher for 500 Euros to spend in Mercadona and notice from Amazon Spain that I've been gifted an iPhone 11.

But wait, the emails both came from the same address - how can that be? You don't suppose that, if I click on the link,  I'll be taken to some fake website where the scammer will want me to post bank details or my login details for Amazon.

A brighter person would at least use a spoof email address to make their messages look genuine. This person just used their normal address.

I marked them as junk in the hope that will stop any further fake emails from that address.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The market is back

Many locals have missed the weekly market on Calle Purisima where it would be impossible to maintain social distancing.

From tomorrow, the market returns but this time in the Parque Huerto del Cura with a few rules to keep you and the stall holders safe:

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A change to the rules

Starting today, children in Spain under the age of 14 will be able to go out for accompanied walks within a one-kilometre radius of their homes between 9am and 9pm.

Youngsters who are 14 and over are not included in these provisions, but may go out to perform the same essential errands allowed for adults, such as trips to the supermarket.

The order states that children can be accompanied by any adult “who currently lives in the same home as the boy or girl, or who is employed to take care of the minor.” In the case of the latter, the person must have written authorisation.

Under the new rules, an adult can go out onto the street with as many as three children. Trips to parks that are open are allowed, but children can not play on the swings or go to “recreational or sporting areas.

The order adds that children presenting coronavirus symptoms must not leave their homes.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Scumbags

In these uncertain days where normality has been turned upside down, criminals are trying to cash in.

The TV license scam mentioned in this genuine notice from my bank works in one of two ways both of which are aimed at clearing money from your account.

I've had two emails that supposedly came from local supermarkets (Aldi and Mercadona). Both claimed that I qualified for a voucher. All I had to do was click on the link to obtain my reward. No doubt, if I had followed the links, I would have been asked to give my bank details. Fortunately, I smelt a rat and deleted both emails.

Even better though was the email I recently received that claimed my computer had been hacked. Not only had the person got hold of all of my contacts, they had video or me viewing porn and pleasuring myself via my webcam. If I didn't pay a ransom in bitcoins, the video would be sent to three of my contacts.  REALLY!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The news

Vega Baja has recorded 484 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began. Three more cases compared to yesterday.

Orihuela Health Department has 125  cases -two more than yesterday- and the Torrevieja Health Department, 359 -one more than yesterday.

However, the death toll remains unchanged, with 56 people in the Vega Baja,

Monday, April 20, 2020

I think we qualify on the first count

Three disposable masks per person - available from local chemists. All you need is your SIP card to obtain your masks. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

3 minutes of silence

 Bigastro, like those of the rest of the Vega Baja, has called all its neighbours to participate in a tribute to the victims of Coronavirus, which will take place this Sunday morning, at 12 noon.

Yesterday, the mayor, Teresa Belmonte, accompanied by councillors of the government team, toured the public buildings in the town.  Local Police lowered  flags at half-mast as a sign of Official Mourning.




Belmonte made an appeal "from our balconies we will pay tribute with 3 minutes of silence in memory of all those who have died and in support of their family and friends."


The mayor also thanked the Parish of Bigastro Nuestra Señora de Belén for their collaboration in this tribute. The church will ring the bells at 12 noon to begin the act of remembrance. 

Thinking of those who have paid the price


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

For those who were missed

I understand that there are a few on our estate that have not had their Bigastro face masks as yet.

The distribution of masks to our estate took place on Thursday, April 2nd, on the same day as the notice was posted. They were delivered by municipal workers in sealed plastic bags (two per bag). The man who delivered them had a list of addresses with names that were checked off as he handed the masks over. Bless him, he even spoke in English!

Since the masks were meant to be delivered by hand, I suspect that they would not leave them at your gate or in your post box. Obviously, if you were not at home at the time, you are not registered on the Padron or your doorbell didn't work, then they could not be delivered.

However, all is not lost, you can contact the Ayuntamiento via WhatsApp on 636107371 and request masks by giving them your name and address. I am sure they will deliver them to you ASAP.


Monday, April 13, 2020

I wonder

Just how ill was Boris Johnson.

He complained of "mild" symptoms of Covid -19 and was tested positive for the virus on March 27th. Following his own guidelines, Johson self isolated in the flat at No11 Downing Street. He subsequently appeared on videos that he made of himself and looked dreadful.

On the 3rd April, Johnson said that he was still suffering from a "mild" symptom - a raised temperature.

April 5th, he was admitted to hospital for what was described by Downing Street as "precautionary measures" and tests.

By April 6th it was admitted that the Prime Minister had been moved to an intensive care unit where he was given oxygen. No 10 were insistant that he was NOT on a ventilator. He was attended to by two ICU nurses. Reports said that he remained conscious, had been comfortable and engaging with the staff.

After three nights, he was moved back to a general ward and was said to be in good spirits. The following day it was reported that he was taking short walks between periods of rest.

Yesterday, six days after he was admitted to hospital. Boris Johnson was discharged from hospital to recover at his country retreat. He made a video in which he thanked the staff at the hospital for saving him. In that video he looked much better - more his usual self.

The Daily Mail are suggesting that Boris had escaped death and that his chances were 50-50. They painted a picture of a PM continuing to work hard throughout his illness without regard for his own health - a great hero that some have even likened to Churchill.

I have no doubt that Johnson's condition was bad and that he was in real danger but let's not get over dramatic. For him to recover so quickly must surely mean that he was not in the same category as those who are on ventilators, heavily sedated and barely struggling to stay alive. Serious cases of this virus spend considerably more than a few days in ICU and weeks in hospital afterwards to recover. Johnson was lucky.

Let's hope that, when the next pay review for NHS staff comes up, he remembers his words of praise and instead of voting against and even clapping when their claim is turned down, the PM decides that they deserve recognition. It would be good if, at some point in the future, the Government admitted that ten years of cuts to the NHS was a big mistake - one that they will never repeat. 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

I never thought I would say this

Just as last year, when it rained on Easter Sunday, I will not be getting up at 6am tomorrow to be down in Bigastro for 7am. Although I will probably enjoy the extra hours in bed, I'd still prefer the dawn call.

Last year, for the first time since we came to Spain, the Encuentro was staged inside the church. I figured it would not be good for photographs because of the number of people crowding inside from the rain. There were photographs posted on Facebook that kind of proved me right but still made me regret not going down to make an attempt. 

The first time I went down to watch the ceremony was in 2008. For some reason I missed 2009 but was there 2010, and 2011. Again I missed 2012 when I overslept. 2013 I was there and in 2014, 2015 and then 2017 and 2018. I recall that we were in England visiting our family in 2016.

As you might imagine, I have a fair sized archive of photographs of these events. I also have video because in 2014 I took video rather than stills.

From 2009

Opening times

a) Shops were open at normal times from the 9th until today (the 11th) but will be closed for Easter Sunday.

b) Shops will be open from Monday to Saturday next week as normal but closed next Sunday 19th.

c) Monday 20th, (St. Vincent Ferrer) shops will be allowed to open until 3pm.

d) From 19th April until sanctions are lifted, shops will be allowed to open on Sundays until 3pm.  

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Boys' toys

You likely the heard the siren on the police car as it toured the estate last night and the other night and you may have wondered what the emergency was.

I'm pleased to tell you, there was no emergency - they were celebrating someone's birthday.

Monday, April 06, 2020

My reply

Many thanks to William D Taylor who replied to my story yesterday about our dear departed friend Antonio.

It seems that William and I share a lot in common, we both graduated with B.Ed degrees and taught in innner city schools. He has a flat in Alicante where he stayed only a few weeks ago.

I hope that William is staying safe and that he will soon be able to return to his home in the sun.

I also had a comment recently from someone who wanted to remain anonymous regarding my piece about Brits behaving badly.

My reader got the impression that I was a fan of Boris Johnson. Let me put you straight on that point! I am neither a fan of Johnson, nor his aide Cummings; nor am I a fan of Gove, Patel and Rees Mogg.

Having said that, I do wish Johnson well and hope he makes a full recovery from coronavirus. However much I disagree with their politics and selfish, self serving naked ambition, I do not wish ill of any of these people.

Unlike some readers of the Express and the Mail, I don't harbour hatred for any politicians I disagree with.  

Sunday, April 05, 2020

A dear friend

It is Palm Sunday, a day when I should be down in the park taking photos of bigastrenses in their Sunday best.

Sadly, we are all confined to quarters.

This photo dates back to Palm Sunday, 2017 when we met up with Antonio, (who taught us Spanish) on the way to the park.

Sadly, Antonio is no longer with us and we miss him a lot. He and I had a similar sense of humour and were great friends even though we had only lnown each other for a few years. 

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Green shoots?

During the daily briefings in the UK they talk of "green shoots" when indications show a slowing down of both the infection rate and death rate from Covid-19. .

Here in Spain, the lockdown was implemented earlier than in the UK ad has been more stringent so we would expect to see those improvements to come sooner.

This is a report from El Pais today:

The Spanish Health Ministry announced on Saturday that a total of 809 people in the country had died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, a significant drop on the 932 fatalities recorded on Friday, and the lowest number of daily deaths seen in seven days.

The total number of coronavirus deaths in Spain now stands at 11,744. Registered infections have risen by 7,027 to 124,736. This represents a day-on-day increase of 5.9%, the lowest figure registered in Spain in at least three weeks. The number of patients in intensive care has increased to 6,532, a daily rise of 1.8% that is also the lowest recorded in this period.

The number of new patients admitted to hospital has also fallen. On Saturday, a total of 57,612 patients required hospitalization, up 975 from Friday. On Thursday, that figure was 2,524. Meanwhile, 34,219 patients have recovered from the Covid-19 disease and have been discharged from hospital.

Of course, these improvements need to be sustained over a week or so but at least we can draw some hope from them. 

A different kind of Easter



Thursday, April 02, 2020

Many, many thanks

To the ladies who worked hard to produce them, the company who provided the material free of charge and the Town Hall for bringing them around to our houses.

These masks are reusable and washable. They should last the duration of the lockdown. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

How good are they

Just to make your day a little special, the local police will come to your door and sing Happy Birthday to you.

I asked them if they would sing a birthday greeting to Pamela but they say the service is only for children. Seems I’ll have to sing myself tomorrow.

Masks for all

Volunteers in Bigastro have been busy making masks to protect us from coronavirus. So far, they have made 800 in 24 hours.

The distribution of these masks will be carried out by municipal personnel authorised for this purpose. They will ring your bell and deliver them to you by hand.

The maasks are washable, and can be worn for many days if you take care of them properly.
It is recommended that you do not wash them with corrosive products (bleach and similar), because they are in direct contact with your skin, and these products can irritate you. Just use nuetral soap and they will be fine.

You will need to be a little patient, because it will take several days to reach all homes in the town.

Remember that one mask will be delivered per adult person living in the house. Kids can't go out on the street so they don't need a mask.

Let's be responsible, because stock is limited, and don't ask for more masks than you need.

PLEASE NOTE This is not an April Fool's joke - this is from an official notice by the Town Hall. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

About to get tougher

Spain’s cabinet is meeting this morning to approve a tightening up of the country’s lockdown that will see all non-essential workers ordered to stay at home for two weeks.

The prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said the “extraordinarily tough” measures were needed as the county tries to halt the spread of the virus and reduce the strain on its overstretched hospitals.

“This measure will reduce people’s movement even further [but] it will reduce the risk of contagion and allow us to unblock out intensive care units,” the prime minister said in a televised address on Saturday night.

Despite the high death toll of recent days, Fernando Simón, the head of Spain’s centre for health emergencies, said that the situation in some regions appeared to be improving.

“We’re getting there,” Simón told a press conference on Saturday afternoon. “We don’t know exactly when we’ll get confirmation, but we’re getting close to the peak of the curve that we’re studying so anxiously. In some parts of the country, they probably may even have passed it – but we need to be cautious with preliminary information.”

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Pointing the finger

We tell our friends and family in England that the response there to the pandemic has been too slow and that the Government have been indecisive but was the Spanish Government any better?

This is taken from an article in the Guardian newspaper.

Spain does not share land borders with the countries that were first showing cases of the coronavirus.
This may, in fact, be one of the reasons for the country’s late response. Spain thought it was far enough away. “Spain will only have a handful of cases,” said Dr Fernando Simón, the head of medical emergencies in Madrid, on 9 February. Six weeks later he gives out daily figures of hundreds of deaths. The number of dead per capita is already three times that of Iran, and 40 times higher than China.

On 19 February, 2,500 Valencia soccer fans mixed with 40,000 Atalanta supporters for a Champions League game in Bergamo which Giorgio Gori, mayor of the Italian city, has described as “the bomb” which exploded the virus in Lombardy.

In Spain, Valencia players, fans and sports journalists were amongst the first to fall ill.

The main reason for the quick spread through Spain may be linked to the fact that is has been an unusually mild, sunny Spring. In late February and early March, with temperatures above 20C, Madrid’s pavement cafes and bars were heaving with madrilenos socialising.

On 8 March, just a week before the country was closed down, sports events, political party conferences and massive demonstrations to mark International Women’s Day all took place. Three days later, about 3,000 Atlético de Madrid fans flew together for another Champions League match in Liverpool.

When Pedro Sánchez announced that he would be invoking emergency powers, he took more than 24 hours to put them in place – by which time part of the population of Madrid and other cities had dispersed across the country.

Poor coordination also meant that the regional government of Madrid had closed universities and schools earlier that week, provoking a holiday atmosphere in which bars and parks were full and many families left for their beach homes.

The lockdown that began on 14 March has been efficiently enforced with police fines. As a result, Spain’s ghastly curve of fatalities will begin to flatten soon and ministers say measures should start being relaxed when the month-long quarantine ends on 11 April. Yet no-one expects a return to normality.

Monday, March 23, 2020

I am ashamed of my fellow countrymen

People in the UK have to start taking this coronavirus seriously. It has the potential to kill millions of people worldwide unless it is stopped in its tracks. You only need to read reports from people who have suffered from the virus and reports from doctors who are treating patients with the disease to know how horrible and painful it can be. In the worst cases, when death comes it is probably a mercy. In even the mildest cases, it is something that people will never forget.

Boris Johnson advised people to stay away from pubs, clubs, theatres etc and what happened? They ignored him, even his own father said he'd still be going for his pint of beer thank you very much.

Then the Prime Minister told people that pubs etc would be closed but they could still go out and get some fresh air and exercise.  In fact, he positively encouraged them to go out for the sake of their mental and physical wellbeing. However,  he advised them to maintain a social distance of 2 metres. When he was asked, "how would you maintain social distance between a group of 5 year old children?", he had no answer.

Well, Brits certainly did go out over the weekend, in great numbers. There were so many people in popular places like markets, the seaside etc, it would have been impossible for them to stay 2m apart but actually, they didn't seem to care how far they were apart. It was almost like they were sticking two fingers up to the Prime Minister and his advisers. The fact that they felt well and had no symtoms did not mean that they were not carrying the virus on them ready to infect as many people as they met. Clearly, the message is not getting through - probably because it is not strong enough.

Pam spoke to her best friend from schooldays yesterday. She said that the beaches in North Norwich were crowded with people. They were going to take the dog for a walk but would chose what they thought would be a quiet lane. I hope they managed to find somewhere secluded but from reports in the papers, I doubt they would be so lucky.

Worse than that all that though, there is a report in the Independent of large crowds of youths coughing and spitting at frontline emergency workers dealing with a serious incident on Saturday night in West Yorkshire. After the coughing and spitting, motorbike riders came along and threw eggs at the police who were dealing with the incident. The youths were attacking the very people who are attempting to protect  them and their lives, the ones they will rely on to keep them safe when things get worse as they surely will.

The British only need to look at Italy and what happened there. People in Italy thought that Covid-19 was just like a normal winter flu and so carried on with their normal lives. They were advised to stay in, to maintain social distancing but like the Brits, they chose to ignore that advice.

On March 5th the death toll in Italy rose by over 50% and so the authorities decided it was time to take a stronger stance and impose control. As the lockdown set in, over the course of a week police charged more than 40,000 citizens for flouting the quarantine rules.

Even if Boris decides to impose control by law, the same will likely happen in Britain. People will continue to ignore him and put more lives at risk. Like the Italians, the British people know best.

Folks, it is not about saving the National Health Service as Boris keeps telling us, it is about saving the lives of our friends and family - sparing them from this horrible disease that won't go away until we stop it. I hope and believe that we can beat this terrible virus but not if we keep sticking our fingers up and burying our heads in the sand.


Friday, March 20, 2020

Orderly

Back down to Bigastro this morning to have my knee checked. The good news is that it is healing up nicely and I won't need it re-dressing. Again there were only a couple of people in the Medical Centre. Some of the staff have taken to wearing green disposable theatre gowns, green hair caps and slip on covers for their shoes. It looked ominous but I am sure it wasn't, there are still no reported cases in Bigastro.

Onward to the pharmacy where they were allowing two people at a time inside. They had erected glass screena and put tape around chairs to distance you from the personnel. Similarly, in the tabacco shop there was a screen to seperate you from the people serving.

Spar and the veg shop opposite were restricting the number of customers with those waiting forming a line outside with recommended distancing of course.

There was no panic, nobody with excessive quantities of goods and shelves that were well filled. There was no need to set limits because everyone seemed to be buying sensibly. It was markedly different to the scenes in the UK papers of shoppers with huge quantities of toilet paper and sad faced seniors contemplating vacant shelves wondering what they were going to be able to buy to feed themselves. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Further restriction

The Government has modified the Royal Decree.

So, from today, we will be restricted to travelling with only one person in a car. 

NB There are only four exceptions

In this way, the Government of Pedro Sánchez adds the limitation of freedom of movement on public use roads, other use spaces such as beaches, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The exceptions are: accompanying people with disabilities, minors, the elderly, or a duly justified cause.

This possible sanction is added to those already in place for skipping confinement. Rmember you should only be in public places for tasks such as buying food, pharmaceuticals and basic necessities, as well as attending health centres, services and establishments, caring for the elderly, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or especially vulnerable people.

Travel to the workplace  to carry out their work, professional or business provision is also allowed, as well as the return to the place of habitual residence.



Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Please take note


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Que raro

Normally, the Medical Centre in Bigastro is packed on Monday mornings with people. This was the scene yesterday when I went down to have the dressing on my knee changed.

There was just one other person waiting and another who came to see one of the doctors. The personnel, dressed in white, some wearing masks, were wandering around looking purposeful.

Stop you from getting bored


The world of culture is one of the most affected by the suspension of daily life that is occurring these days as a result of the expansion of the coronavirus. For this reason, the Bigastro City Council recommends the following digital culture proposals available free of charge.

Theatre and Opera - https://bit.ly/2WjMQ5S
Art and Painting - https://bit.ly/3d88MXk
Cinema - https:// bit.ly/2WqLlCG
Series - https://bit.ly/2TWuYw5 🎙
Radio - https://bit.ly/38YahnT
Comedy - https://bit.ly/2wgTAXx
Concerts - https://bit.ly/3a8kGPr
Museums - https://bit.ly/2ISPOWV
Books - https://bit.ly/33lUaiT
Scores - https://bit.ly/39ZLSzM
Magazines - https://bit.ly/38UOMo6
Music - https://spoti.fi/38WXLFc
 Poetry - https://bit.ly/33sGxhY
Activities for children - https://bit.ly/33mSwgI

UNESCO
https://www.wdl.org/en/
Gather maps, texts, photos, recordings and films of all time and explain in seven languages ​​the jewels and cultural relics of all the libraries on the planet.

Boris looks almost ill

Those of you who watched the broadcast yesterday will have seen a very different Boris Johnson to the one that welcomed the new MPs to Westminster. Yesterday, he looked haggard, tired and stressed. Luckily, he had specialists either side of him to explain things and answer questions as he stumbled over his replies to questions. .

We can draw comparisons between the measures taken in Britain and those taken in e.g.Spain.

Whilst Johnson "advised" people not to visit pubs, restuarants, theatres etc, Spain has made it illegal to be out and about. Pubs, clubs, restaurants in Spain are CLOSED, in Britain they could remain open just in case there are any customers who choose to ignore the advice.

Cynical people have already come to the conclusion that the British Government stopped short of forcing a lockdown to avoid having to compensate the hospitality industry for loss of earnings. The British approach also means that businesses cannot claim on their insurance because they do not face a forced closure.

Johnson also falls short of putting a ban on mass gatherings. Instead he says that they will no longer provide emergency support for large events.

All Boris Johnson wanted was to be Prime Minister and "get Brexit done", Unfortunately, he has landed himself with the task of trying to steer the country through a health crisis. Only time will tell if if he is up to the task. 

That makes sense

Orginally, I thought the police were saying that dog walking was not permitted at all under the "State of Alarm".

Whilst this notice does not give you permission to take your dog for a ramble, it does allow you to take it for a toilet break. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

The natural way

Bigastro's will be protected from pests in the most natural way, with a greater presence of their predators. To achieve this objective, a series of nest boxes are being installed to attract the settlement of a larger population of insectivorous birds that fight pests such as that of the pine processionary. The Bigastro City Council has launched this campaign with the collaboration of the Association of People with Disabilities "La Pedrera", who have produced nest boxes of various sizes.

The first wooden nests have been installed in the trees that are located on the Alquibla Route, in the area of ​​La Pedrera. The councilor for the Environment, Antonio Meseguer, and the environmental technician, Pablo Perales, helped by some users of the association as well as by students from the San José de Calasanz Institute, carefully placed what will be future "homes" for the birds. In addition to processionary, the greater presence of birds will allow controlling the annoying mosquito plague. Meseguer noted that this initiative is part of a project that works on environmental education, and "we are looking for ways to reduce the use of chemical pesticides."

The project arises from an agreement of the City Council with the Ibero-African Biological Studies Society, where through a contribution of 700 euros, manufacturing of nest boxes and talks were held in educational centers in Bigastro. Pablo Perales, in charge of the project, explained that "it is about promoting the nesting of insectivorous species, both in natural areas and in urban settings, especially birds that have suffered a significant decline in recent years, and now it will be treated to make life easier for species such as hoopoe, scops owl, as well as small birds that feed on insects that are a pest.

After placing these boxes, the beginning of colonization will be monitored in June, and then, in March or April 2021,

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Check before you go

If you have an appointment at the Medical Centre in Bigastro, phone 966 904 400 and you will receive instruction as to whether you should attend or not.

If you have an appointment at the Centre in Orihuela or at the Hospital Vega Baja, they will phone you to tell you whether to attend or not.

UPDATED

Just to be clear

Which parts of Spain do the measures affect?
The declaration of the state of alarm went into action on Saturday night, and affects the whole of Spain for a period of 15 days.

Which branch of the administration is in charge?
Under the state of alarm, the central government in Madrid has all powers. All security forces, including local and regional police forces, are under direct orders of Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska. The government will reserve the right to fine people who do not respect the restrictions, as is allowed under the 1981 law setting out the conditions of the state of alert.

What are the restrictions on movement?
During the state of alarm, citizens and vehicles will only be allowed to travel on public roads and streets for the following activities:
The purchase of foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and essential items.
To attend health centers.
To go to work or to provide employment services.
To return to your usual residence.
To assist and care for seniors, minors, dependants, the disabled, or people who are particularly vulnerable.
In cases of force majeure or of necessity.
Any other activity that is, by its nature, justified.
Vehicles may take to the roads for any of the aforementioned activities, as well as to refuel at gas stations.
Limits to commercial activity, restaurants and leisure centers
All premises and establishments that carry out public-facing activity are closed, apart from those distributing foodstuffs and essential items.

Cafés and restaurants are shut, but they will be able to deliver food to people’s homes.

Public shows such as cinemas and theaters are closed, as well as sporting events, museums, etc.

All local fiestas and marches are suspended.

Ceremonies and religious sites
Civil and religious ceremonies, and services in places of worship, including funerals, can go ahead provided that there are no large crowds and that attendees maintain a distance of one meter from one another.

Reinforcements for the health system
Military personnel and health installations will be used to strengthen the national health system across Spain. The Health Ministry will ensure that production centers for health supplies continue to operate, including the temporary intervention of companies, private health establishments and pharmaceutical sector centers.

How will transport and supplies be regulated?
Rail and bus services can be reduced by 50% by operating companies. The authorities will guarantee the circulation of goods across all of Spain. The supply of tickets for travel available for reservation will be reduced by a third. The government will guarantee the supply of electricity, gas and oil, and the protection of infrastructure that is critical to services.

Is the supply of foodstuffs guaranteed?
The authorities guarantee the production, storage, transport and distribution of foodstuffs to the consumer. When necessary, the transport of produce will be under escort, and routes will be established to allow for the circulation of personnel, raw materials and finished products. To guarantee these supplies, the government has powers to mobilize the state security forces and the army.

Take note folks

The police are carrying out patrols in the towns of the Vega Baja to ensure people comply with the measures adopted in the State of Alarm

The declaration of the State of Alarm obliges us all to change our way of life for at least the next 15 days during which the Government has restricted the movement of people and vehicles, and decreed the closure of schools, bars, restaurants, cinemas and any other establishment that does not dispense essential goods to stop the expansion of the Coronavirus.

The restrictions to individual rights and freedoms reduce the use of the road and public life , both for pedestrians and for vehicles, for the following cases: acquisition of food, products pharmaceuticals or basic necessities, going to work, assistance to health centres, travel to financial institutions or for any activity of major cause or situation of need.

The local police of the different municipalities of the Vega Baja are calling for the residents to comply with these restrictions.  Bigastro Local Police remind us that we cannot take part in activities such as going for a run, walking the dog or going out on a bicycle.

Failure to comply with the rules and disobedience to the Authorities could lead to a fine of € 601 to € 30,000 explains the Local Police.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

No return to home

Jet2.com flights to Spain this morning e.g. Manchester to Alicante have turned around mid way and returned to Manchester. 

"Jet2 have cancelled all holidays in Spain and the Canary and Balearic islands 'with immediate effect'.

It comes after flights to Spain were returning to the UK after being turned around 'mid-air' this morning.

At least half a dozen flights are understood to have been affected on Saturday morning, according to website FlightRadar24.

In a statement, Jet 2 said: “In response to local measures introduced throughout Spain to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of bars, restaurants, shops and activities including any water sports, we have taken the decision to cancel all flights to Mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands with immediate effect.

"We know these local measures will have a significant impact on our customers’ holidays, which is why we have taken this decision."

“We are contacting our customers who are currently in these destinations, and who are due to travel, to advise them of their options, so we urge customers not to call us.

Full statement from TUI
Following local measures put in place by the Spanish Authorities, including closing some hotel facilities and the local bars, restaurants and beaches we have made the difficult decision to cancel holidays due to travel between 14 and 16 March.

Although there is currently no advice from the UK Government against travelling to Spain it would not be the holiday experience we would want for our customers.

We will proactively contact all customers due to travel to Alicante between 14 March and 16 March to offer alternative holiday options or offer a full-refund.

Any customers due to travel between 17 March and 23 March will be contacted about their holiday on Monday 16 March.


A video from the Health Centre Bigastro

A tale of two shops

Mercadona at San Louis yesterday looked as though it had been attacked by a swarm of ants. There was no toilet paper to be had, no loaves of bread nor any form of fresh meat, only a few cartons of eggs left, very few fresh vegetables even wine and spirits were in short supply.

Meanwhile, in Spar there was an air of calm. The shelves were full and shoppers were buying  normal quantities of goods.

People should take heed. Although there are now severe restrictions on opening of public places, shops (at least food shops) will remain open and the supply chain to them will be maintained. If people insist on panic buying then food shops will either have to close or limit the quantities that people buy. 

Maximum alert for coronavirus - Spain shuts down

 The Government of Spain and the Generalitat Valenciana have taken emergency measures  to try to slow the progress of the epidemic. Pedro Sánchez , in an extraordinary appearance, announced the state of alarm for at least 15 days through a royal decree that the Council of Ministers will approve today to deal with this health pandemic. In turn, after the postponement of popular festivals and the indefinite closure of schools, Ximo Puig decreed in the Community the closure of bars, restaurants, discos and gyms to avoid sources of contagion; announced the suspension of cultural activities; and took control of private healthcare.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the battle will be long, but he showed firm conviction. "We are going to beat this virus," he said. It is your most urgent challenge. The contagion advances unstoppably and the numbers are devastating. The cases have risen to  4,231 infected and 121 people have already died , according to the count of the Ministry of Health. In the Valencian Community there are already 148 cases - yesterday thirty more in a single day, among them the one of the general director of Public Health - and the first death has been registered in Alicante. The Government, as Pedro Sánchez himself explained, is considering that the 10,000 infected will be reached in the coming days.


From Madrid to Valencia
The outbreak of the pandemic has led to drastic measures in all communities. Both the Prime Minister and the Head of the Consell, Ximo Puig, insisted on the responsibility of citizens to avoid concentration in public spaces, as emphasized by all health professionals. The Valencian Government has decreed the closure of all cultural, sports and leisure activities, both public and private spaces, as well as day and occupational centers in the Community to limit the spread of the virus. This was announced by the President of the Generalitat, who after presiding over a new meeting of the table for prevention and action against the coronarivus, indicated that these are "necessary measures to combat this situation".

The meaures include the suspension of the opening to the public of cultural centres, museums, theatres, libraries, cinemas, cancellation of shows on public roads as well as all sports events. In addition, the closing of discotheques is decreed, the activity of bars, restaurants, cafes, bullfighting in the bullring, the bous al carrer celebrations and animal shows are suspended. Limit movement on the street.

However, they made it clear that the suspension of the hospitality industry does not affect the food delivery service that these establishments are deploying. It also includes the closing of gyms, swimming pools and establishments where sports activities take place. In the social sphere, the activity of day centers, occupational centers, early care centers and day centers is suspended. After meeting with distribution companies in the commercial sector and consumer associations to analyze the situation, Ximo Puig wanted to thank the attitude of the Valencian citizens towards this situation and indicated that during these days all the measures they consider necessary to combat this situation will be taken », Which did not rule out adopting new resolutions.


Friday, March 13, 2020

Eating in

Bar Pujante are offering a take away or home delivery service to bigastrense.

"Stay at home, we know that it is a complicated situation, and it is time to be cautious, for this we have enabled the service to take home and pick up at the premises, the minimum order for home delivery will be 20 euros. Telephone 639136108 we also accept whatsapps
Service available from 20:30 to 23:00 Friday and Saturday".

Cause for concern?

In Madrid there are reported to be 1,400 cases of Covid-19 with at least 56 deaths according to Murcia Today. NB Those figures may have risen since publication.

Yet there are suggestions that madrilenas are still coming to the Vega Baja for their 2 week holidays. People here are rightly complaining that these visitors may be spreading the virus to our region.

Stop the lies

In times of crisis, there are always those who will spread misinformation and lies. There are NO reported cases of Covid-19 in Bigastro. 

Precautionary measures




Thursday, March 12, 2020

Precaution

It is likely that we will see many events cancelled. Valencia has already cancelled the Fallas for this year. 

Coronavirus explained