Hello from Spain - Mon 23rd March 2020

 What's happening in Moraira and the surrounding areas here on the Costa Blanca during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak you may ask, apart from restaurants, bars and coffee shop closures?
Whilst we are staying in Mirador al Sur on the Moraira Benitachell hillside overlooking the valley and Moraira, we are somewhat removed from the town itself so feels like you are in the country. Without seeing hardly anyone walking about each day feels like a Sunday but even quieter.
The Spanish regulations put in place for this lockdown from midnight on the 14th March include the limitation of movement. To that end only one person is permitted to take a car to the supermarket and one can only go for a walk if you have a dog and on your own. Sometimes you will see a police patrol car parked in the supermarket car park and a patrolman checking that only one person is driving. Although there are severe fines to support the lockdown in Spain and with France too, it appears they are giving verbal warnings, or at least in the initial stages and if it is for a minor infringement.
I have found the supermarkets are full of produce and there are no queues at all. In fact, the isles of even the big 10,000 sq ft supermarkets may at any time only have 3 or 4 people in. On Saturday 21st March the large Carrefour supermarket had maybe more staff than customers in at 10.30am; considering it was fully stocked was quite odd. At the entrance a security guard ensures you put on a pair of disposable gloves and advises you to keep a distance from other shoppers. Gel is also provided.
There was a rush, but hardly any panic one would say, before the shutdown, simply as it coincided with a regional holiday on the Costa Blanca, so more products were being purchased than usual.
Pushing the trolley around the supermarkets is quite strange as everyone gives a wide birth to other trolley pushers. There is no interaction between anyone and clearly none as no partners or family are present. One is just there to shop.

Chemists, takeaways, launderettes and oddly hairdressers are open. I understand the latter two is due to the government making the concessions in a bid to ‘not do much harm’ to small businesses which are important ‘for the economic structure of the country.’ Ministers also wanted to maintain some elements of daily life to reduce the harm to the economy and the upset to people’s routines.

Most electrical stores that sell IT products are permitted to open, so you can even shop for a TV or fridge and not have to buy an IT product. Other retailers are all closed, as well as builders merchants, unless with the express permission of the police and have a certificate to open. Trade builders merchants are mostly closed too. Oddly one builders merchant in Benissa has been open. It may well depend on staff considerations as to why some are open but others are mostly closed. Clearly a problem for the self-employed generally, if they are unable to get any supplies to carry on working.
Only those people who can obtain certificates to travel to work are able to get on with their business.
Most, if not all professions like solicitors are taking the opportunity to work from home, or just spend time with family.

The common site of group semi and professional cyclists have had to cease their sport. With gym closures and inability to walk about then nobody is getting much exercise. For those staying in villas with gardens then one can at least enjoy the sunshine outside and maybe do some exercise.
The new games room at Mirador al Sur has a static exercise bike and ping pong table, which is getting well used.

Local supermarkets;
Mercadona is a huge national chain of supermarkets here in Spain and whilst the outlet in Moraira has a great wet fish counter and has staff who hand slice the wonderful selection of cured hams, currently closed off though, lacks choice in mostly all other areas. There is a good sized fresh fruit and vegetable section but lacks choice. There is no open butchery and all meat products are pre packed. The range of wines is extensive at the very cheap end and too many of the same price point and style.
Aldi is opposite Mercadona and a busy store. Good choice of products and non-food that ever changes.
Carrefour has its dominant presence but they do no not have an open butchery section either, There is a greater choice of fruit and veg and cheese too. Probably a better selection of wines and international products on offer. The non-food section is quite useful too.
Lidl is just a few doors away from Carrefour and a much busier store.
Pepe La Sal has 2 branches in Moraira and located on the main road into Moraira and on the coastal road to Calpe. Both stores have wet fish and an open butchery . The meat in particular is very good and great choice cut to order. The stores have a far greater selection of international products and vast range of wines including wonderful regional Spanish wines from Alicante and Valencia areas. In fact, there is more choice on wine than all the other supermarkets put together. If you want a 1lb of plain flour or say porcini (dried cepes) you will get it here. Pastries everywhere always disappoint. They look good but don’t taste as nice as they look.
All supermarkets close on Sunday, with the exception of a small Corte Inglais in Moraira town opposite the fuel station. You can buy freshly baked bread there too.

Posted by Bruce Gibson

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