surinenglish

THE BOTTOM LINE

The great confusion

We lacked experience of a great pandemic; but we knew that it could cause many deaths, much pain and incalculable financial disruption. But we didn't know that it would cause other problems. In Spain Covid-19 has created great confusion which, for more than a year now, has left us all uncertain and disorientated.

The authorities, from the central government down, have collaborated efficiently with the virus to leave us all in a permanent state of bewilderment, not just about the future but also about the present situation.

It all started when the official spokesperson said that the wearing of protective face masks was a superfluous initiative. This was the prelude to an order declaring them obligatory.

Since then we've been walking around with our faces half-covered, barely recognising one another and with difficulty understanding and making ourselves understood. I have no objection. The face mask is now an essential item of clothing. Confusion grew and multiplied as the days went by with no practical solutions as politicians blindly adopted measures without listening to scientists and experts.

Things got even more complicated when the regional governments got involved, eager to display their power. The state government clearly started to weaken. The problem was exactly the same for all citizens, but the measures to solve it were decided differently, often contradictorily.

Hence the chaos we are struggling through now: areas were locked down, different timetables were fixed in each place and official propaganda stubbornly turned a shared problem into absurd comparisons with which each regional government aimed to best satisfy its parisioners.

The closing time for restaurants, bars and taverns, for example. Some, I'm sure with good criteria, ordered the total closure; others established limits, thinking of the votes of the suffering business owners watching their livelihoods crumble.

Many of us now wake up wondering whether our turn for a vaccine will ever come or whether today restaurants can open and close one hour earlier or later.

Before we leave home we have to consult Google to find out if we are in lockdown, if we can go to the bar on the corner for breakfast, as our neighbour across the road does, and risk getting a fine, or whether it would be wise to stay in front of the computer thinking that, at least in this case, perhaps we would be better off with a single authority.