Traveling Again in Spain During COVID-19

Traveling Again in Spain During COVID-19

edgar llivisupa profile photoAfter living almost 100 days under a national shelter-in-place, June 21st was the beginning of Spanish life under “the new normal.” Society was able to live their life as if it were January. However, new habits, guidelines, and measures from the quarantine were still being followed. 

Businesses that severely impacted by the stay-at-home order felt the most eager for tourists to begin traveling again. The tourism industry was one of the most heavily impacted. Since the beginning of March, the Valencia region lost around 2.8 billion Euros in revenue year-over-year according to Levante-EMV, a Valencia-based news outlet. These losses weren’t limited only to the region. Tourism is one of the biggest industries in Spain, according to the World Tourism Organization. As revealed by their 2019 International Tourism Highlights, the nation is second worldwide in tourist arrivals and spending.

Deciding to Begin Traveling Again

As the country opened its borders to foreign tourists on July 1st, I decided that would be an ideal time to make a trip and start traveling again. Planning was indeed crucial. The number of trains between my town and Valencia lowered from five to three. I needed to coordinate my travel time with the new train schedule. The final train departs from Valencia at 5:00 in the afternoon, undeniably an unideal time. Nonetheless, I, fortunately, didn’t have to worry about lodging. My friends offered to let me stay in their apartment. 

People must wear face masks as they start traveling again.

Once I arrived, the most apparent change was the number of facemasks and hand sanitizers. At the time, the government did not insist on wearing face masks in public. It wasn’t uncommon to see someone maskless and someone else scolding them. Due to the hot, humid Valencia heat, the masks were uncomfortable to wear. They felt like sweatbands for your mouth. 

Another noticeable change was the heavy use of path markers on the floor. I visited several museums that had strict one-way-only paths. Security ensured guests followed instructions. It was easy to become disoriented when following a path, especially if a floor had hallways that snaked in and out. Perhaps we will become as synchronized as the robots traveling on the Axiom in Wall-E.

Some Normalcy Amidst Fear

Dining hasn’t seen a noticeable change. People already felt accustomed to dining outside because Spaniards did that before. However, diners can now scan a QR code for most menus. Nightlife is an explicitly different story. Only a certain number of guests are allowed into a building, and they also must wear masks. However, stories of arrests or business closures of densely-packed nightclubs started to surface across the country. L’Umbracle, a nightclub very close to where I spent the weekend, had an outbreak reported two weeks after I began traveling again. 

Floor signs to maintain social distancing.

Around the time of this development, I made my second trip to Valencia. The country’s issue of the coronavirus evolved. No longer were there a few, isolated cases in remote parts of the country. Cities were finally starting to have outbreaks. Foreign governments started issuing guidelines to avoid traveling to Spain. In turn, the regional government fought unquestionably hard for an exemption. They paid a hotel to exclusively house travelers with the virus. 

Logistics Challenges

My second trip to Valencia required more planning and vigilance on my part. For one, I wasn’t able to stay with my friends. I didn’t feel comfortable staying at a hostel, either. As a former auxiliar who stayed past their visa, I didn’t have health insurance. In the end, I opted not to find a room at all and traveled daily to the city. This made traveling again significantly more challenging.

Fortunately, I only wanted to visit the City of the Arts and Science, a tourist attraction in Valencia. The multi-building complex had only opened the science museum, cinema, and aquarium to the public. There were many similarities to my visit a month prior; multiple hand sanitizer stations, path markers, low capacity numbers, and indicators to separate crowds. The cinema represented a good example of this. The museum officials separated groups by two rows and seats apart. 

An image of church pews with social distancing signs as people start traveling again.

Safety First

Something odd that I noticed was the water fountain at the aquarium: they were covered so that the public could not use them. Around this time, the city government had found traces of COVID-19 in the water throughout multiple neighborhoods in Valencia. Because I didn’t know whether public water contaminated with the virus posed a major threat, I felt comfortable that the authorities had shut the fountains off. 

A drinking fountain that Edgar noticed had been shut down as he started traveling again.

Unfortunately, the situation only worsened. As of the time of me writing this, the number of daily cases is rising. Every day, healthcare workers report approximately 3,000 new cases. In response, the Ministry of Health announced additional precautions. There is now a ban on smoking in public and nightclubs. Uncertainty is on the mind of many Spaniards as the summer holiday ends and employment and school return.

by Edgar Llivisupa

22 thoughts on “Traveling Again in Spain During COVID-19

  1. I’m glad to see that they’re taking safety seriously over there. I think we can get back to some semblance of normalcy if we all just do our best to stay safe and follow the rules.

  2. Traveling is really scary now, specially when you are traveling fr a longer time. Am so glad to see you have taken extensive measures. Thank you for sharing this

  3. It’s nice to see all the safety measures in place. We have a lot around our area as well. It’s sad at the same time though too. Hard to see all that’s going on.

  4. This is great to see that safety measures are being taken. This is such a scary time for sure, especially with kids.

  5. It’s always great to see places opening their doors again. However, safety is still paramount, so it’s great that they strict measures in the areas you chose to visit.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Glad they are taking the safety of everyone as a priority. Spain is such a beautiful country and I can’t wait to be able to travel safely again!

  7. Oh my, Spain looks like such a wonderful place to visit! I’d love to go there soon and explore the country for myself. 🙂

  8. It seems like Spain is still taking Covid very seriously. I am not traveling now but when this is under control I would love to go to Spain.

  9. I always appreciate all the safety things around while traveling. When we traveled during the summer, we did feel safe. But yes, numbers still rise here too, sadly.

  10. I love travelling so much. And Spain is such a beautiful country. But nowadays there are so many rules you need to respect. Every country has their own. Thanks for sharing!

  11. It’s sad but quite interesting to see how all the tourist places changed. How sad is it that the water fountains had to be closed because of the virus!

  12. I’m still afraid to travel to be honest. Although I really appreciated those who really observe social distancing. I haven’t been to Spain. I hope I can visit once everything is normal.

  13. The tourism industry has suffered a downside during the pandemic and as the world is recovering well after the pandemic scare, we should also still be cautious. Staying safe should be a priority everywhere we go both within the country and outside our borders

  14. I traveled a few times over the summer and there were a lot of changes. But our family was careful and everything was fine. I am honestly just hoping things can get back to normal though. I am so over this new life.

  15. We usually go somewhere during the summer, but we skipped it this year because of the pandemic. Hopefully, we get to travel again next year.

  16. We were lucky enough to not have to cancel our trips this summer. Can not wait for this to be over and done with

  17. I haven’t really been anywhere since Covid restricted travel. I’ve wanted to do something fun with my little boy this summer but that didn’t happen. Maybe next year. Over the spring, we just found some new activities to stay busy. Being trapped inside your home 24/7 isn’t good for the mental health.

  18. I applaud your courage. I would not be traveling until next year but it is interesting to see popular places so quiet and not so crowded.

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