• Morgan Fagg

An Athlonian on Lockdown in Madrid

Published in The Westmeath Independent

This time last year I was photographing the Global Greening, meeting with the agriculture minister and presenting him with a picture of Madrid to take home to Ireland, I was photographing the local GAA team and their invitational tournament that invited teams from all over Europe to the Spanish capital.

Just last week I was wondering why no preventative measures were being taken on public transport in a city of six million people. I wore gloves on the Metro and covered my face with a scarf but my friends thought I was overreacting to fears of Coronavirus.

Today, I am under the equivalent of house arrest where I could face fines for walking in the street without good reason and Europe has woken up to the realisation that Covid-19 is not to be taken for granted.

They started disinfecting public transport in the last few days but few people are allowed outside of their homes and I am working from home this week and teaching classes online.

I hope people in Athlone have learnt the lessons from Spain, Italy, Iran, South Korea and China and are staying indoors and avoiding large gatherings of people. This is not a normal Saint Patrick’s celebration and I hope people in Athlone realise that.

People will be tempted to break curfew and meet with their friends but as a friend in Ireland who is self isolating told me, “it is strange to have your wife handing you meals while wearing rubber gloves.” That friend is awaiting testing and I fear Irish cases could increase rapidly like they have here in Spain.

I am not worried for myself as I am not an at-risk age group but I am worried that Ireland will not learn from Spain, Italy, Iran and China and will continue as usual when this is not a normal threat we are facing. The luck of the Irish will be surviving mass infections that our hospitals can’t cope with and not celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day amongst friends and family and then getting sick.

Today in Madrid as I ventured out shopping, I could see police tape on a children’s playground. The little play area a crime scene of germs that could possibly be passed from young to old.

When I met people on the empty Spanish streets today, some of them crossed the road to avoid meeting other people.

Boil the kettle, put on the tele and enjoy the boredom. These are extraordinary times, stay safe but keep your distance from others and this will all be a distant memory.

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