'People seem more fearful of the law than coronavirus' says Wakefield expat living in total lockdown in Spain.

An expat who moved to Spain almost three years ago has spoken about life under total lockdown, saying fears over the threat of prison often overshadows the risk of coronavirus.

Friday, 17th April 2020, 4:29 pm
Chris Green (left) and his partner Gary Jones moved to Spain three years ago.

Chris Green and his partner Gary Jones moved near to the sun-kissed party resort of Benidorm in 2017, starring on the Channel 5 show, 'Bargain-Loving Brits in the Sun' as they started their new life abroad.

But their idyllic life came to a halt a month ago when the country was put on complete lockdown as Covid-19 began to spread rapidly across Europe.

All non-essential businesses shut with almost immediate effect and since then nobody has been permitted to leave their home unless they are heading to the supermarket or the pharmacy.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Masks are essential when leaving your home in Spain.

The tourists have long gone and the police and army patrol in numbers, endlessly checking people's credentials.

There is simply no allowance for exercise, which has left 46-year-old Chris watching the news from the UK with envy.

Wakefield-born Chris, a former bar manager at Lofthouse Hill Golf Club, said: "We do not have that luxury of an hour's exercise each day.

"I spoke to a friend in the UK on FaceTime the other day and they had been out for a bike ride - I'd kill to be able to go on a bike ride.

Spanish resorts have been left desolate by the lockdown.

"It's the fear of being fined or even going to prison here, probably more than the virus.

"We're seeing on the news people sunbathing in parks in the UK - you wouldn't get anything like that here.

"The police in the UK are a lot softer, they will not put up with it here.

"It does not look like the UK is in lockdown at all and that some people are not taking it seriously.

"There are police everywhere here, they are at roundabouts, on patrols and the army are here as well. There's a really heavy presence.

"I think most people do understand that it's in everybody's best interests. It is frustrating; you can feel imprisoned and you can get a bit of cabin fever.

"We're lucky enough to have a balcony in our apartment but we know some friends that don't, I can't imagine what that would be like.

"But you can feel like a criminal when you go outside."

Chris works at local bars and restaurants, while husband-to-be Gary, who is originally from Bala in Wales, works at a hair salon.

Both have been furloughed and like workers in the UK, can apply through a Government scheme for around 80 per cent of their usual wages.

They have spent the month since lockdown painting their apartment, and like many Brits, bingeing on Netflix.

Living a 15-minute drive northeast of Benidorm in the town of Albir, Chris says the usually-bustling resorts have become "absolute ghost towns" and "rarely see a soul".

And with good reason. Residents caught outside without a a valid reason could risk fines running into thousands of Euros, or even jail.

People are allowed to walk their dog providing they do not go more than 50 metres from their property.

Only one person is permitted to be in a car, and if there are more, they can expect to be pulled over swiftly and ordered to provide a valid reason.

And if you they do venture to the supermarket, it has to be the nearest shop to their home.

Sanitiser is provided at the shop entrance, masks must be worn and disposable gloves provided must be used.

Shoppers must also keep their supermarket receipt, in case they are stopped on their way home.

While supermarkets in the UK continue to see some panic buying, leaving shelves empty of toilet rolls, meat and pasta, among other items, Chris says Spain has since 'moved on' from there.

He said: "We went through that stage just before the lockdown, everybody seemed to have trolleys full of stuff, like they were doing enough shopping for three months.

"You saw people queuing for ages, but people have now realised that supermarkets are still open and everything on the shelves is being replenished.

"It was a nightmare before but the supermarkets are not overly busy now."

Spain's death toll from Covid-19 has now climbed to almost 20,000

Recent UK news has reported that lockdown was being relaxed in Spain, but only for some construction workers and Chris says there is still little sign of a let up for everyone else.

He expects it to continue until well into May.

"I have been watching the news and it is like we have gone back to our normal lives here in Spain, which is nothing like the reality here unfortunately ," added Chris.