• Marie Bateson

The Rollercoaster

It's no surprise to discover that many of the world's leaders are absolutely winging it, especially in times like these. I mean, Trump just suggested we inject disinfectant into our veins to kill off the virus. However, there are moments when it's more than a little frustrating to be governed by people who clearly don't have a clue what they're doing.

I haven't been too critical of the way Spain's government has handled the pandemic, other than the fact that they waited far too late to instigate some form of lockdown. This is pretty unprecedented and entirely rubbish for everyone. But, this past Tuesday, the 21st of April, they completely cocked up. Even Sanchez' good looks couldn't make up for the craptastic plan they revealed to the public.

The pressure to let children outside for at least some part of the day has been mounting for weeks. By the end of today, Saturday the 25th of April, all kids in Spain will have been confined to their homes for six full weeks. It's been challenging for us, to say the least, and we have a huge sunny roof terrace to enjoy. I have friends with small children who have literally no outdoor space whatsoever. The sunlight falls directly into their apartments for a short time each day, but, other than that, their kids have not felt the sun on their skin in six weeks. That feels unnecessarily cruel.

So this past Tuesday, the 21st of April, every parent in Spain waited anxiously to hear what the government would announce regarding children going outdoors. To say the announcement was 'disappointing' would be the understatement of the decade. Some hair-brained government officials decided that, as of the 26th of April, children would be given "the same rights as adults" in the sense that they would also be allowed outdoors but only to go to the supermarket, bank or pharmacy.

As you can imagine, parents were none too pleased with this announcement. Even under normal circumstances, bringing small children to the supermarket is a bloody nightmare. They touch EVERYTHING and demand you buy them all the snacks. But bringing a kid to the supermarket when there is a pandemic on?! That would be the fastest way ever to spread germs from household to household. It became very clear, very quickly, that either nobody in the government had ever raised children or that they knew perfectly well that no rational parent would want to risk bringing their child to the contagion-hub that is a supermarket or pharmacy.

That's the part that rankled most about the announcement. Does the government think the parents of Spain are stupid? We all knew immediately what was going on. The powers that be had to respond to the ceaseless demands to let the children outside. However, they were rightly concerned that allowing children to head outside meant more adults would be outside as well, thus risking more contagion. So some genius came up with the moronic plan to announce that kids could join one of their parents on a trip to the supermarket, pharmacy or bank.

Said genius knew very well that no parent would want to endanger their family's health by taking their children to these places. It was a sneaky manoeuvre to answer the demand to let the children outside while at the same time not actually letting them outside. All this plan did was shunt the shitty decision to keep the children indoors over to the parents. The government could turn around and say, "You want to take your kids out? Sure! But you can only take them to locations that are indoors so the children cannot run and play. Oh, also, only to places that are full of potentially-infected people."

Obviously, every parent was outraged and petitions immediately started circulating to reject this plan and allow children outdoors to exercise, not to stand still in the festering pit of germs we call a supermarket. Fortunately, the roar of outrage worked.

By that night, they'd done a complete 180. A new announcement was made that children would indeed be allowed outdoors to exercise starting on Sunday, the 26th of April. Over the following days, the government cobbled together some rules for this outdoor time. One of the ladies in our mums' group here made a handy infographic to clarify these rules, which I've included below.

Basically, those under 14 can go outside for an hour a day, only within 1km from their home, only with one parent, and only between the hours of 9am and 9pm. Kids can't use playgrounds and have to stay two metres away from others. They don't have to wear masks, but it's recommended.

At this point, they could ask us all to wear burlap sacks and we'd happily oblige. We just want to get the kids out for a proper runaround in the fresh air. Now, only one question remains... can we go play on the beach?! We'll find out tomorrow because we're heading there first thing. If a cop stops us, I'll play the dumb foreigner role I'm so used to playing.

But the cop will have to catch us first, and my kids are pretty damn fast.

This is Win more than keeping up with me 3 years ago... I'll never take that simple freedom for granted again! Actually, that's a lie. You'll probably find me putting off going for a run less than a month after lockdown ends.

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