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'Licence to leave' for residents in Spain's tightest-fitting town: One inhabitant per 48 square metres
15 May 2020 @ 14:29


GOING out for a walk, a jog, or cycling remains limited to the boundaries of your town, and a maximum of a kilometre from home if you're just going out for a stroll. And for joggers and cyclists in Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia, this generally gives them sufficient scope.

But spare a thought for the 687 inhabitants in the village of Emperador, north of Valencia: Their entire municipality is just 33,000 square metres, or 8.2 acres.

That means one person per 43 square metres, or one resident for roughly the size of a one-bedroomed UK flat.

Given that Emperador's population is less than 5,000, it does not have to worry about time slots for going out exercising – but that makes it even harder to avoid overcrowding.

In fact, the actual village itself, from one end to the other, is only 200 metres, and its municipal boundaries do not extend much beyond another 50 or so in any direction.

Residents pop into the next towns, Museros to the north or Albalat dels Sorells to the south, to go to the supermarket – and even then, they can walk it in under 10 minutes.

The problem Emperador faced when Spain's population was given licence to leave the house for reasons other than essential errands was that it was practically impossible to stick to social distancing rules – doing so would mean popping out of town, which is not permitted.

And Emperador, being in Valencia city's 'home counties' and within the metropolitan zone hospital catchment areas, is still on 'Phase 0', restricting residents' movement still further.

“There are loads of fields and farmland outside the village, where there's little chance of crowds building up, so they'd be ideal for walking, running or cycling,” says mayor Alberto Bayarri.

“But they're outside Emperador's municipal boundaries, so they're off limits.



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