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Live News From Spain As It Happens

Keep up to date with all the latest news from Spain as it happens. The blog will be updated constantly throughout the day bringing you all the latest stories as they break.

From pre-War to Gen Z, how we feel about life and the universe
07 July 2020

ARE today's teens in a panic about climate change and happy to hang out with their parents, whilst pensioners think plastic recycling and global warming are just silly modern hysteria?

Worldwide research on our perspectives depending upon when we were born has been carried out in 40 countries, with a stratified sample – that is, specifically designed to reflect a microcosm of current society - of nearly 30,000 people, and the results for Spain have sufficed to blow some commonly-held notions out of the water.

Here's how.

 

Who and how

WIN International, a leading global association in the field of market research and opinion studies, commissioned the report Perspectives on Life Between Generations over last year, and it has just been published – with some surprising conclusions.

For Spain, the survey was conducted by the DYM Institute, based in Barcelona and with a branch in Madrid – if you're keen to have your views included in their findings in the future, you can fill in a questionnaire with your details on their website so they can contact you next time they're sounding out society – via 1,017 online interviews back in November 2019.

Respondents were divided into the internationally-recognised generational categories, rather than those specific to a given country – as an example, 'Baby Boomers' are widely held to be those born in the 18 years after World War II, or from 1946 to 1964, even though in many countries no such explosion of childbirth occurred at that time; in fact, Spain's 'Baby Boom' generation is mainly those born in the 1960s and early 1970s.

The DYM Institute then worked out the main character traits for each generation as an overall introduction, some of which appear fitting, and others of which may shock those of a similar age group, but which do seem to include traits that would have been in keeping with the socio-cultural and economic climate during their childhood.

 

Tell me when you were born and we'll tell you what you're like

Although, in theory, encompassing a couple of generations, the oldest segment studied was those born in or before 1945 – which, in Spain, would include people born in the 1910s, given that the country has a high population of residents aged well past 100.

Research methodology here may have led to a reduced participant group, however, which may make the findings a little generalised: Being an online survey, those aged 74 and over at the time (at the very youngest, 73 and 10 months) may be less likely to use the internet than much younger participants, meaning fewer responses.

Known as the Pre-1946 Generation for the purposes of the study, although often referred to as the Great Generation, these people were found to be slow to adapt to the modern world.

Whether they were born during a major war or just as the last one was finishing, they are likely to have grown up with shortages, rationing and stockpiling; particularly in Spain where the Civil War from 1936-9 was followed by 35 years of dictatorship, with widespread poverty and hunger at least in the first couple of decades.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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Herd immunity won't work without a vaccine, Spanish scientists find
07 July 2020

'HERD immunity' may not be a reliable method of reducing the spread of Covid-19, according to a study by Spanish scientists – it seems only a fraction of those exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus are immune at all.

In the case of most of the common diseases caused by airborne virii, including by other types of Coronavirus itself – one strain of Coronavirus is responsible for the common cold – vaccinating the most vulnerable members of the population largely prevents mass contagion and, in the case of some contagious or infectious diseases for which vaccinations have been invented, their prevalence has been wiped out altogether in the western world.

Diphtheria, smallpox, and even more recent conditions such as whooping cough are almost extinct now because of those likely to catch them or who would suffer worse if they did being inoculated, and unvaccinated patients who contract them being healthy enough to recover quickly with few or no side-effects, their bodies developing an immunity to them as a result.

With no vaccination as yet available for Covid-19, 'herd immunity' can only be achieved through those catching it developing antibodies that stop them getting infected again, meaning they cannot pass it onto anyone else.

But Spanish scientists have been carrying out an extensive nationwide study into seroprevalencia – the prevalence of antibodies within the population – and have concluded that around 95% of those tested have not acquired an immunity to the virus.

They tested over 60,000 volunteers who had been exposed to the Coronavirus, according to the results of the experiment published in science journal The Lancet, and discovered antibodies in only around 3,000 of them.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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Spanish hotels and resorts shortlisted for World Travel Awards
03 July 2020

THIS year's World Travel Awards – widely considered to be the 'Oscars of Tourism' - has extended its online voting until August 17, and several hotels, holiday complexes, attractions and entire cities have been nominated for the 'Europe's leading' categories.

Each list contains an average of five to 15 entries and, although Barcelona and Madrid dominate, other candidates can be found in the north, the islands, Chiclana de la Frontera (Cádiz province) and Calpe (Alicante province).

The Transcantábrico is up against the Royal Scotsman, British Pullman, Golden Eagle Danube and Trans-Siberian Express, and Venice-Simplon Orient Express for the Europe's Leading Luxury Train 2020 Award.

For hotels and resorts, Barcelona's trade-fair centre, Fira Barcelona, has been nominated for Europe's Leading Meetings & Conference Centre; Hacienda Zorita in Valverdón, Salamanca province (second photograph), for Leading Wine Region Hotel; La Manga Club on the Murcia coast, Las Colinas Golf & Country Club on the Orihuela Costa, southern Alicante province (fourth picture), and PGA Catalunya on the Costa Brava for Leading Villa Resort; PortAventura Mansión Lucy near Vilaseca, Tarragona province for Leading Theme Park Hotel – and PortAventura itself for Leading Theme Park Resort; and La Manga is also nominated for Leading Sports Resort and Las Colinas for Leading Resort Villas.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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Spain's 'beach control' contrasted with 'chaotic' UK shores in British press
02 July 2020

SPANISH coastal towns have been upheld as an international example by a British broadsheet and contrasted very favourably with the situation on UK beaches.

This comes just days after Madrid-based Guardian writer Giles Tremlett spoke highly of residents' and Spaniards' exemplary self-discipline and community spirit during lockdown.

The Telegraph reporter Tobias Ellwood said 'Bournemouth beach should have been closed to new visitors in the morning and the council should have done more', and shows video footage of huge crowds practically on top of each other on the sands in the popular British coastal city alongside two young men lying about a metre and a half (five feet) apart in a roped-off plot on a beach in Spain.

Ellwood's geographically-challenged headline, “Bournemouth vs Benidorm: What British beaches should learn from the Costa del Sol,” is likely to have attracted a string of corrections in the comments section – Benidorm is in the Mediterranean province of Alicante in the east, whose coast is known in tourism terms as the Costa Blanca, whilst the Costa del Sol is the shoreline of the province of Málaga in the south, around 700 kilometres away – although the Spanish beaches flagged as paragons of Covid-19 safety are based in the latter.

British nationals based in Spain, and a huge number of UK residents, reacted in stunned horror at footage of the Dorset coast and fury at hearing of drunken fights, three stabbings involving eight arrests, and over 40 tonnes of mostly-plastic rubbish left behind on what has historically been a family beach and retirement hotspot.

And it was not just Bournemouth – tens of thousands of people are known to have gathered in close proximity on the beaches in nearby Poole, and in Southend-on-Sea (Essex), nobody wearing masks as these are very difficult to get hold of in the UK, according to several sources from the country.

Many Brits living in Spain have expressed concerns at their compatriots being allowed into the country for their holidays, given the still-rising number of Covid-19 cases in the UK and the widely-publicised behaviour of its citizens living there at the first sign of sun – although the outpouring of rage from UK residents at the scenes shows that, hopefully, these are very much in the minority.

Also, British travellers who are more sensible have pointed out that contact between UK-based holidaymakers and Spain's resident population is likely to be minimal – package trips tend to involve enclosed resorts where guests are of the same nationality, whilst holiday homeowners have more contact with Spain generally and will be very aware of how their resident friends and neighbours observed lockdown – and continue to take extreme precautions – with few or no complaints against the actual régime or its imposition; only, perhaps, frustration about how inconvenient it all was, whilst recognising that there was no other alternative.

Also, Spain takes the temperatures of all airport arrivals and has them fill in a questionnaire including their contact details, meaning anyone who may be harbouring Covid-19 could be filtered out at the border, and if they are asymptomatic and pass it on, anyone who has been in close proximity to them will be notified immediately and ordered into self-isolation.

Tobias Ellwood, in his Telegraph column, writes that in Spain, some beaches have created a 'traffic-light' access system – when the lights are red, nobody is allowed entry, and if they are green, it means there is space – with limits on numbers allowed on the sands.

Some town halls, he writes, have banned items like balls and lilos, which take up space and could come into contact with people who are not their owners.

In his mentions of the Costa del Sol – rather than Benidorm - Ellwood explains how monitors, or 'informers', paid by town councils, are on site to tell visitors what the rules are, direct and order bathers, and to call the police if anyone flouts the regulations.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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Extra airport staff for passenger health checks
02 July 2020

EXTRA personnel have been taken on for Spain's airports this summer to ensure every single traveller is checked upon arrival – especially now the EU has opened its borders to a specific number of third countries, which do not include Russia, the USA and Brazil at present.

Temperatures will be taken either manually via contactless thermometers, or via 'thermographic cameras' which show up different colours, and anyone showing a body temperature of more than 37.5ºC could be stopped, as this is normally the threshold for a fever.

No personal data, nor camera images, will be stored, meaning all travellers' privacy will be guaranteed.

Carriers – airlines and ships – can take passengers' temperatures before they arrive on Spanish soil, under supervision by the government's international health department, if they wish.

All passengers of any nationality travelling from any airport or port outside Spanish territory will be required to fill in a public health form online, which they must complete before travelling.

Once the form is filled in, the traveller will be given a QR code which they are required to present upon arrival.

Travel agencies, tour operators, airlines and shipping companies, or any other 'middleman' involved in selling tickets or package trips is required to inform passengers before any money changes hands about the form to be completed.

Anyone whose temperature is above 37.5ºC or whose details on the form lead authorities to suspect they may be infected with Covid-19 or any other contagious or infectious condition will undergo an additional full health check.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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Retail sector recovers well from two-month shutdown, sales figures show
01 July 2020

A SURGE in retail sales last month shows that the public had been waiting with bated breath to get back to the shops, and more so than before lockdown, taking advantage of their new-found freedom.

According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), although April saw almost every shop except those selling everyday essentials shut – meaning the increase in takings of 19.3% in May is probably logical – many were still offering online sales and, until much later in the month, not all of them were able to reopen for trade as before.

Sales have fallen by 20.2% based upon May the previous year, but this is also to be expected, given that full 'business as usual' was not in place until well into June.

Small retailers have been highlighted for their adaptability during the health crisis – offering online and telephone sales, home deliveries, 'pay now buy later' deals, offers, discounts and free gifts, complementary masks and hand-sanitisers – and their takings in May were up 31.4% based upon April where they had more than one branch, or 23.3% where they had only one premises.

The greatest rise in retail sales between April and May was, naturally, non-food products, given that these were largely closed in April, but once shops finally restarted progressively in May, their takings for personal equipment shot up by 125.3% and for home equipment by 89.5%.

Once people in Spain were allowed to travel outside their towns again, this, obviously, increased sales in service stations, which saw a 37.4% rise between April and May.

Reopening is not the only factor, though: Despite late May permitting residents to visit shops again in person, online sales still grew – albeit at 17.6%, this figure was lower than the growth seen for April when it was the only way anyone could buy non-essentials.

Food sales fell year-on-year by 0.3%, and the reasons for this could be many and varied, including not wanting to leave home to go to the supermarket unless it was absolutely necessary, or fears of eating too much in lockdown and putting on weight.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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Princess Leonor gives speech in perfect Catalán
01 July 2020

PRINCESS Leonor has stunned the public by giving a speech – without notes or autocues – in fluent catalán, the language of a region she has never lived in or been to school in.

The 14-year-old heiress to the throne joined her parents and sister, the Infanta Sofía, 13, in a video-conference to explain that this year's Princess of Girona Awards ceremony has had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

Although her 'main' title is Princess of Asturias – and Spain's national version of the Nobel Prizes take the same name – Leonor in fact holds a long list of aristocratic titles which are secondary to this, including that of Princess of Girona.

These awards, also named after her, are a smaller version of the Princess of Asturias prizes, and each year follow a different theme.

For 2020, they have focused on the main challenges faced by Spanish society, in particular children, teenagers and young adults, especially in light of the global Coronavirus outbreak.

Prizewinners this year are film director Guillermo García López, businesswoman Pepita Marín Rey-Stolle, chemist Rubén Darío Costa Riquelme, and IT pioneer Guillermo Martínez Gauna-Vivas.

Princess Leonor and the Infanta Sofía took part in last year's Princess of Girona Awards which, to celebrate their 10th anniversary, were held in Barcelona, the region's capital and Spain's second-largest city.

Although unable to do so in person before a physical audience, because of the Covid-19 crisis, this is the first time Leonor has spoken publicly in catalán.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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The gripping novels of Carlos Ruiz Zafón, an author who will be sorely 'Mist'
29 June 2020

HEARING of the recent passing of Spain's best-selling author after Cervantes, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, at the age of just 55, has had many of us reaching for our copies of The Shadow of the Wind again – probably untouched for a decade and a half on average – and discovering elements in it we missed the first time around.

This is often the case with a book or film we check in with again after a long hiatus and, in the case of Ruiz Zafón's massive hit, may well spur many of us on to buy and devour his long string of others – especially given that even the sequels to it have been overshadowed by his masterpiece of 2001. To such an extent, in fact, that many avid readers may be unable to name his other titles, particularly the early ones aimed at a younger audience.

Yet they may be missing out on entire new worlds created by the writer who is, arguably, Spain's King of Mystery and Suspense, sometimes based upon real life, sometimes fantasy, sometimes both, and frequently sinister, gripping and labyrinthine in its twists and turns, with impressive and vivid historical detail.

Ruiz Zafón was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018 whilst on holiday in London, two years after finishing his last novel, and in a tragic coup of irony, discovered it was terminal, like the main character in one of his best-loved books.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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'Guardian' and the WHO praise Spaniards' lockdown behaviour
29 June 2020

THE WORLD Health Organisation has praised Spain for its 'swift control' of new outbreaks, acting quickly to isolate and test and, if necessary, impose movement restrictions, whilst British broadsheet The Guardian has described the 'exemplary' way Spaniards behaved during lockdown and are continuing to act now 'New Normality' has been declared.

Although the European continent is still notifying an average of 700 deaths a day and around 20,000 new cases of Covid-19, Spain is handling it exceptionally well, says the WHO's regional manager Hans Kluge.

On Twitter, he wrote: “Staggering progress in Spanish Covid response guided by health minister Salvador Illa – 1% positivity rate, 60% of new patients through contact-tracing, testing capacity increased. Vigilance towards mini-outbreaks in the new reality. Full support by WHO Europe,” and includes emojis of clapping hands.

Germany, one of Spain's main summer tourism output countries, is managing further outbreaks similarly well, as are Poland and Israel, says Kluge.

Most of these have been associated with the reopening of schools, factories and coal mines, he explains.

Kluge, additionally, praises the 'change in people's behaviour', in terms of adhering to social distancing rules and use of masks in public.

“Bravo, people!” He tweets.

His view are supported by Guardian writer Giles Tremlett, who lives in Madrid and has experienced Spanish lockdown first-hand.

In an article titled 'Spain squashed Coronavirus', Tremlett raises concerns that British tourists will 'undo all that hard work', given that they are now permitted entry to the country but that many UK residents have heavily criticised their public for ignoring and flouting the safety measures – such as huge crowds on the beaches in Southend and Bournemouth, and unmasked crowds drinking to celebrate Liverpool's Champions' League win.

Tremlett echoes president Pedro Sánchez's argument that 'Spain had Europe's strictest Coronavirus lockdown', referring to 'children housebound for weeks and Army patrols to enforce it', which has 'produced a dramatic tail-off' and led to the country's mortality rate 'returning to normal' on May 10.

“It's important to acknowledge that Spanish success is the result of an exhausting exercise in nationwide solidarity among 47 million people,” Tremlett says.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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Spain 'one of world's top nations' for LGB protection, gender equality and trans rights
25 June 2020

COINCIDING with 'Pride month' and just before International Pride Day – on June 28 – a report has revealed Spain is one of the world's top countries for protecting and supporting the homosexual and bisexual community, as well as the transgender and intersex population.

A report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – whose member countries cover the whole of the developed world and a few emerging nations – shows Spain is the fifth-best place in the world for non-heterosexual people to visit, live and work, and equally so for trans people.

Anecdotal evidence has shown, for the best part of 20 years at least, that expats who identified as homosexual or bisexual were pleasantly surprised by how 'ordinary' they felt when they moved to Spain, experiencing total acceptance, feeling safe, and being able to talk freely about their partners without avoiding personal pronouns, even with the older generations and in the workplace.

The popularly-used acronym, LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) was recently extended to include 'TI' (transgender and intersex), although the debate rages on as to whether they should be separated, as they have no connection between them other than both communities having once suffered from being ostracised or invisible; transgender people are just as likely to be heterosexual as non-trans or 'cisgender' people, and their support needs are very different from those of people who are comfortable with their biological sex but are romantically attracted to either the same sex, or both.

Given that the two have been joined, for the moment, as 'LGBTI', the OECD report does not differentiate between them when analysing which countries meet international equality and integration standards – even though it is likely many nations do better with one community than with another.

 

How the rest of the world performs

The report says Spain fulfils 69% of international criteria in place as at 2019, and is only beaten by Canada (87%), Portugal (76%), France (74%) and The Netherlands (72%).

And Spain is ahead of forward-thinking European nations such as Germany (68%) and Iceland (67%), the latter of which is on a par with Australia.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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