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POLL - COVID 19 SPAIN - Do you feel comfortable.....?
10 July 2020

Now that all regions in Spain are now living the "new normal" apart from a handful of places that have been put back into quarantine, it is possible to start seeing how the general population is reacting to this new way of living. Certainly, the first couple of weeks after lockdown was lifted we noticed a large surge of people going to bars for a beer or a snack, now that restaurants are also open as well as cinemas and gyms, it begs the question, just how comfortable are we going to these places, especially when we see new cases popping up all over the country. That said it is to be expected until there is a vaccine. The coronavirus isn't just going to disappear overnight.  So how do you feel about visiting certain places now? taking into consideration that all places are following hygiene guidelines, from what I have observed, and that social distancing, generally speaking, is being respected..Please cast your vote:



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POLL - Have you enjoyed being at home during lockdown?
09 June 2020

Two months of confinement have helped Spaniards rediscover the benefits of being at home.  A study carried out by ManoMano.es the leading DIY, home and garden marketplace, concluded that  80% of Spaniards claim to have enjoyed being at home during the coronavirus confinement. The reason? They have spent more time with their loved ones, and they have also taken advantage of their free time to carry out small renovations, tidy up and reorganise the house, and other tasks that previously, due to time, they could not have done. 

By spending more time at home, it seems that the Spanish have come to love being at home more than before. The main reason participants enjoyed their homes so much during quarantine was being able to share more time with their loved ones, especially households with children (51%) compared to households without children (31%).  18% also felt more protected and safer at home while 15% said it was because they had more time to organise the house and redecorate it to their liking. How did you find lockdown? Please cast your vote and post your reason in the comments section below...

 

 

 



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POLL - Do you think Spain's guaranteed minimum income scheme is a good idea?
01 June 2020

The Spanish government just approved a "guaranteed minimum income scheme" set to help 850,000 vulnerable families. It is not the first welfare program of its kind in Spain: there are already 17 different schemes in Spain run by each of the regional governments. But the distribution of this aid is very uneven and only reaches around 300,000 homes. The new scheme from the Social Security Ministry will nearly triple that figure.

 Finance Minister María Jesús Montero called the guaranteed minimum income scheme “a giant step in the fight against inequality in our country.” The program aims to lift around 1.6 million people out of extreme poverty, a group that represents 12.4% of the population, compared with the EU average of 6.9%. And 26.1% of the population is at risk of poverty, meaning that they are living on less than 60% of the median income, or €8,871 a year.

The plan for a guaranteed minimum income dates back to December 2019, when the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos struck a governing agreement after the inconclusive results of the November general election. In this deal, the parties agreed to create “a general mechanism to guarantee earnings for families with no or low income.”

The coronavirus crisis accelerated the plan and in April, the government released the first details of the minimum income scheme, which is set to cost the government €3 billion a year. Drafts of the welfare program have been seen by several ministries. However, these texts are not final, meaning some of the details may change when the royal decree is published in the Official State Gazette (BOE). This is what is known so far about the minimum income scheme and how it will work.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible, claimants will have to be of legal age and under 65, given that above that age there are non-contributory pensions that pay out a minimum of €462 a month. If the beneficiaries live alone, they must have been emancipated for at least three years and be at least 23 years old.

In theory, the payment will be made out to a single individual but destined to the entire household. To be eligible, families must be in a vulnerable financial situation. A family is defined as vulnerable when their monthly income is €10 or more below the minimum income for their situation.

Are migrants eligible?

Yes, migrants who have been living legally in Spain for at least a year can apply for the guaranteed minimum income.

How much is the minimum income?


There is not a set amount, as payment depends on a family’s income and their overall situation. The lowest rate will be €462 a month for adults who live alone, and the highest €1,015. But the scheme will complete family income to those levels, rather than paying out that amount.

How is a family’s income calculated?

A family’s earnings are calculated based on their net income from the previous year. This does not include grants or rental assistance. Given that this method could leave out the economic victims of the coronavirus crisis, the latest draft of the scheme includes an additional provision which takes into account a claimant’s income from this year. This provision will be in place for all of 2020. The decree also considers setting conditions to assess an individual’s loss of income in a year so that they do not have to wait for the following year to claim the minimum income.

A family’s assets, such as property and savings, is also calculated toward their income. But this does not include the family home.

.How will it be funded?


The figures provided suggest that the program will cost around €3 billion a year, to be funded through government transfers to the Social Security system. How the government will fund it is still to be clarified...

Do you think this is a good idea? Please cast your vote...

 

 



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POLL: Would you feel comfortable travelling to Spain this Summer?
26 May 2020

As air travel to and from the U.K. takes off, but threats of quarantine and travel bans lurk, summer trips abroad for British travellers are on hold, not over, though.

Even with the much-feared U.K. quarantine coming into effect June 8, summer holiday hopes are within view. There is still a possibility of future exemptions to the quarantine, the British government said in a statement on Friday. It will continue to look at the option of “air bridges”– similar to travel bubbles–between countries with low transmission rates. Together with bolstered screening measures, this would “remove the need for quarantine measures for incoming passengers.”

This could dramatically change holiday outlooks for Brits. For now, the quarantine will apply to all travellers, (bar the Irish). That includes returning British holidaymakers.

Supposing "air-bridges" are agreed between certain areas of Spain and the UK, how would you feel about visiting Spain this summer or in the coming months?

And if you are living in another country, Germany, France, Holland etc. Would you consider visiting Spain this summer?

Please cast your vote:

 



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POLL - Will you start socialising with friends and family as soon as you can?
13 May 2020

About 51% of the population is now enjoying the extra freedom 'Phase 1' offers, although the metropolitan areas of Spain's largest three cities remain on 'Phase 0', along with Granada, the Costa del Sol, nearly all of Catalunya, and significant portions of Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, and the Comunidad Valenciana.


The government has explained what those living in 'Phase 1' areas can and cannot do, and what those who are not may be able to do in a week or two, depending upon how the virus develops in their territory and the availability of healthcare facilities in reserve to cope with a hypothetical second outbreak.

 

Visiting friends and family

This is now permitted to some degree – either meeting in the street or in your or their homes – unless they have tested positive for Covid-19, are recovering and in the requisite 15-day home isolation period, or are showing symptoms compatible with the disease.

Anyone considered 'high-risk' due to pre-existing health problems – anything affecting the cardiovascular or respiratory system, anything that compromises their immune system such as being in treatment for cancer, or anything which means contracting Covid-19 would automatically be much more dangerous for them – cannot be visited or have visitors.

The elderly cannot have or make visits.

Those considered high-risk 'due to age' are not permitted to receive visitors, meet others on the street or go to other people's houses, although it is not clear where the cut-off point is. The immune system starts to weaken from around age 60 to 70, those aged 70 or over have specific time slots for going out walking or exercising unless they live in a town with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants, and anyone aged 65 or over is given an exclusive or 'priority' slot for supermarket shopping, but people in this age bracket are not, these days, considered 'elderly', or even, necessarily, 'middle-aged'. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classes those aged 66 to 79 inclusive as 'middle-aged', and 'elderly' does not start until age 80; however, people of approximately State pension age are thought to be more vulnerable to Covid-19 and the average age of those who have died from the condition is over 73.

So it may be better not to meet up with anyone if you are 65 or more, nor to visit anyone or invite them round if they are in this segment of the population.

How many people can visit each other at once?

Maximum groups of 10 people are allowed in any one house, including members of the household – a person living alone can have nine visitors, but a couple with three children cannot have more than five.

This is also the case when people gather on the street to meet.

So when your region enters phase 1 or if you are already in phase 1, how do you feel about socialising at the moment?

Also, Do you think the Government's plan is sensible?

 

 



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POLL: Which type of property are you most likely to choose as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis?
23 April 2020

Gardens or on everyone's mind at the moment, especially those who don't have one. Once the quarantine is over, gardens, terraces and balconies may be less urgent as occupants will then be able to go outside again and catch some fresh air and sunshine – but if this situation ever happens again, having a private outdoor space is likely to make it far less of an ordeal.

So, has this health crisis changed the way you'll choose your future residence, be it in Spain or any other country?

Residents on urbanisations or in apartment blocks are not allowed to use communal facilities such as swimming pools, gardens or terraces – only exits and entrances – meaning balconies have become hugely important for the latter, and private courtyards, gardens and pools for the former. Ultimately having a garden is to be able to do exercise and stretch your legs may be a decisive factor.

Filters on searches for properties with outdoor spaces, in general, have been applied 40% more than usual, although homes with gardens appear 128% more often than those with terraces or balconies, according to data from property portals across the board.

This begs the question... if you are looking to buy or rent in the future, how are you thinking?

Which type of property are you most likely to choose as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis?

Please cast your vote:

 



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POLL: Which are your favourite white wines from Mercadona?
17 April 2020

Don't be fooled by the prices, Mercadona sells some excellent wine and not just 'for the price'. They are genuinely good wines, the thing that is quite unbelievable is the price they are able to sell them at. Thanks to the volume they sell you can get a top wine for next to nothing. Every year Mercadona's red wines seem to hit the headlines and receive excellent reviews, however, there is not so much press coverage of their white wines or any as a matter of fact. White wine sells a lot less in Spain and even more at this time of year, but white wine is extremely popular with the British and other nationalities and I know many of you are looking for some good value recommendations. So, who better to ask than the people buying it on a daily basis? All of you...

I have selected some of the best selling white wines in Mercadona for less than €5. Please take a look and select up to three of your favourites. Hopefully, this will help determine which are the most successful...If I have missed any gems please comment below!

 



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POLL - Have your shopping habits changed since lockdown?
02 April 2020

Shoppers in Spain have been buying more alcohol since the Spanish government declared a state of alarm. The sale of beer rose by 77.65% with respect to the previous week, while wine jumped by 62.7% and alcoholic drinks by 36.58%, according to a study in the consumer magazine Inforetail, which is supported by the Spanish Association of Distributors, Self-Service Stores and Supermarkets (Asedas).


The study also shows that the large purchases seen in the lead up to the lockdown eased during the first two weeks of confinement. The peak of the shopping frenzy was reached between March 11 and 14, just before Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced the state of alarm.

“In these two weeks, the number of visits made by each shopper has dropped and the size of each individual purchase has increased slightly, in accordance with the recommendations of the health authorities. These shopping purchases reflect the lockdown the Spanish population is under,” says Felipe Medina, the secretary-general of Asedas, which represents the main businesses in the supermarket sector as well as 19,100 establishments.

While the demand for toilet paper has stabilized, other products have seen a spectacular rise in sales, such as olives (+93.83%), potato chips (+87.13%), chocolate (+79.04%), ice cream (+76.19%) and anchovies (+60%). What’s more, according to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the sale of flour has shot up by 196% with respect to the previous week. It would appear that people have decided that the best way to cope with the lockdown conditions is to set up a bar and a cake shop at home.

But what is behind this change in shopping habits? Is there a sociological or psychological explanation for it?

 According to Carmelo Vázquez, professor of psychopathology at Madrid’s Complutense University, “this reflects the ability to give ourselves rewards and treats in these times.” After the 2001 September 11 terrorist attack on New York and the 2004 Madrid train bombings, Vázquez completed numerous studies on the post-traumatic stress experienced by people in those cities in the aftermath of the attacks. According to the professor, these two events, in spite of the obvious differences, bear a certain similarity to what is currently happening. 

“Despite the widespread thinking that everything is going badly, people are extraordinarily resilient,” says Vázquez. “Back then, the studies showed us that the level of post-traumatic stress did not reach 7%. Now there is a lot of preparatory alarm, but people are handling it very well. One of the phases is exactly that: drink beer, alcohol and eat potato chips. This has a therapeutic effect. The consumption of alcohol and candy increases endorphins, which happens in high moments of stress.”

Olga Castanyer is a specialist in clinical psychologist and author, she says she also “meets up to have some beers with friends on Skype.” According to Castanyer, demand for beer has soared in the past two weeks due to the high levels of stress about the coronavirus crisis. “You don’t eat steak when you are stressed. What the body wants is sugar and fat,” she explains. “When we are locked up, our brains ask us for a prize: like chocolate, candy or simply beer. We are used to living according to certain paradigms and we have never seen the one we are in. That’s why it’s good to continue the social customs of before: glass of wine at home, olives, the Mediterranean culture.”

It’s a theory that’s backed by Josep Lobera, a sociologist at the Autonomous University of Madrid. “You have to take a good look at the data. The consumption of lime flower tea and chocolate reduces anxiety. Others manage it with alcohol or video games. They are all different forms of escape,” he explains. Supermarket cashiers say they have also noticed that more people are buying alcohol.

Have your shopping habits changed?

Please tick up to 5 products that you are now buying more of... 

 

 



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POLL: Coronavirus
26 March 2020

Coronavirus has forced European governments into lockdown as they attempt to curb the spread of the deadly disease. Italy, France and Spain have all announced very tough measures to limit the movement of people.

Boris Johnson has stepped up the country’s lockdown measures but many in Europe fear that his actions have come too late. Paris has even warned that is it prepared to ban Britons from France after showing disapproval with the Prime Minister’s tactics. Italy’s Giuseppe Conte has urged governments to follow his lead and implement a complete shut down of their country before it is too late.

Under the new restrictions imposed by the Johnson administration, people can leave their homes only for very limited reasons such as going to supermarkets for vital supplies or for exercise once a day. The unprecedented peacetime restrictions, which will last at least three weeks, are intended to stop the state-run National Health Service (NHS) being overwhelmed.

But social media images showed London Underground railway trains were packed with commuters. There were also complaints that the advice was confusing or did not go far enough. Julia Harris, a London nurse, said her morning train to work was full. “I worry for my health more on my commute than actually being in the hospital," she said.

Many building sites remained open, with construction workers among those crowding onto early-morning subways.

Electrician Dan Dobson said construction workers felt “angry and unprotected”, but felt they had to keep working.

"None of them wants to go to work, everyone is worried about taking it home to their families,” he said. "But they still have bills to pay, they still have rent to pay, they still have to buy food.”

British Treasury chief Rishi Sunak defended keeping construction sites open, insisting it could be done safely. But London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: “I cannot say this more strongly: we must stop all non-essential use of public transport now. Employers: please support your staff to work from home unless it's absolutely necessary. Ignoring these rules means more lives lost.” 

Many families were also confused by the new rules. After Johnson said people should not mingle outside of their household units, separated parents asked whether their children could still travel between their homes. In a series of television and radio interviews, Cabinet minister Michael Gove initially said children should not move between households, before clarifying that it was permitted.

Earlier advice for Britons to avoid gatherings was widely ignored, with people flocking to parks and beauty spots. Police will now break up gatherings of more than two people, and social events such as weddings - but not funerals - will be stopped.

Gove said stronger measures than 30-pound fines for people who flouted the new restrictions could be introduced. A snap YouGov poll found that 93 per cent of Britons supported the measures, but were split on whether fines would be a sufficient deterrent. The survey found 66 per cent thought the rules would be very easy or fairly easy to follow.

Supermarkets said they had begun limiting the number of shoppers in stores at any one time and installing screens at checkouts to protect staff.

Sports Direct, initially indicated it would defy the order to close but later said it had asked the government for permission to open stores. Gove said Sports Direct was not an essential shop and should close.


There was also ambiguity regarding what powers police had to enforce the new guidance. The government said police would have powers to break up illegal gatherings and fine people who flout the rules. But some expressed doubts about whether the lockdown could be enforced.

Britain has lost thousands of police officers during a decade of public spending and while Johnson has promised to recruit 20,000 more police officers, those efforts are still in the early stages. Unlike some other European countries, Britons do not carry ID cards, another factor complicating enforcement efforts.

Johnson has also warned that the National Health Service could be overwhelmed within weeks unless people took the lockdown seriously.

Britain's economy was now shrinking at a record pace, faster than during the 2008-09 financial crisis as businesses across the services sector are shut, according to a survey.

What do you think?



Like 0        Published at 15:43   Comments (16)


POLL : If you could, would you take out Spanish Citizenship?
31 January 2020

Growing numbers of Britons are taking official Spanish language exams in order to become citizens of Spain, motivated by fears about Brexit. Figures published by the Instituto Cervantes show a 21% increase since last year in the numbers taking Spanish as a foreign language diploma, which is a requirement for anyone wanting citizenship.

The institute, which is responsible for promoting the Spanish language and culture around the world, says more than 400 people in the UK will take the exams this year, compared with 227 in 2015. “Certainly this is related to Brexit and the desire to keep a European passport,” Ignacio Peyró Jiménez, its London director, said. 
Since the Brexit vote, the applications by British residents in Spain to become residents has increased by 431% and this figure is expected to climb

Brits living in Spain had no real need to take Spanish citizenship since, other than being barred from voting in national and regional elections or standing for Parliament, their rights as expatriates were identical to those of any Spaniard.

Citizenship requirements changed in 2015, but are relatively within reach – the language test is set at level A2 or a good GCSE grade and two years’ worth of classes or home study is normally enough to achieve this standard.

A sociocultural and constitutional knowledge test must also be passed – 25 multiple choice questions to be answered in 45 minutes, of which 15 must be correct or 60%.

Successful applicants then must agree to renounce their nationality of birth and swear allegiance to the Spanish Constitution.

In practice, the UK doesn’t allow its native-born subjects to give up their British citizenship, even though joint nationality is not available to Brits living in Spain.

But for those concerned about future restrictions on movement between Spain and the UK, Spanish nationality may, strangely enough, make this procedure easier; a British-born subject is unlikely to be denied the right to spend an indefinite time in the UK as a visitor to, for example, care for family members in need, and with a Spanish passport, re-entry to Spain is guaranteed however long they have been away.

So what do you think? 

Would you take out Spanish citizenship if you could? Please cast your vote...

 

 



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