Concern among small businesses in Marbella and other Costa towns in enforced closure

The shutters have been down in central Marbella since Wednesday.
The shutters have been down in central Marbella since Wednesday. / Josele
  • While all non-essential activity was closed in some resorts, there were signs that the contagion rate was slowing, helping others avoid future harsher measures

Small businesses in Costa towns such as Marbella, Estepona and Manilva, described their situation as "catastrophic" on Wednesday, when they were unable to open their shutters at all due to the local infection rates.

The extra restrictions, brought in where municipalities exceeded case rates of 1,000 per 100,000 people in the previous 14 days, came amid hope but no certainty that the third wave may be peaking this week in the region.

On Thursday, faced with daily new cases of 3,676 in Andalucía, a significant drop from 6,626 on Wednesday, the regional president showed cautious optimism, but said it was too soon to say the curve was being flattened. Juanma Moreno warned there were still "ten to twelve very tough days" to come in terms of hospitalisations and deaths.

Malaga city has managed to avoid full closure measures in this weekend's review as its cases stayed just below 1,000, but in total 35 of Malaga province's 103 municipalities will see nonessential businesses shut by tomorrow, Saturday.

Towns face up to new rules

"We're at the point of breathing sadness," said Pilar, a waitress at a well-known Marbella restaurant, while dropping off her ten-year-old daughter at school on Wednesday. Instead of carrying on to work dressed in her uniform, she was preparing to return home.

Enrique Guerrero, president of Apymen, the small and medium-sized business association of Marbella, spoke for many of his members. "The situation is catastrophic," he said. "Walking through the town centre you can see 30 to 35 per cent of the shop units are now empty and on Avenida Ricardo Soriano, the main road, this could be as high as 40 per cent." He added, "The vaccine is the only hope."

'No means of support'

The same story is being repeated the length of the Costa del Sol. On Estepona's Calle Real shopping street, the shutters will be down until at least 10 February as well.

Vanessa is one of the owners affected here. "The shopkeepers are pretty fired up," she explained, adding that they were willing to fully support moves to reduce contagion but have no means of support.

"This week taxes need to be paid just as we are closing our shops," she added. She said the worst fear of the owners was the pandemic could go on a lot longer.

Still in Estepona, shops that can still stay open have also seen a change in the public mood. Javier Martín, a local fishmonger, explained, "When we stopped the first time round, people were coming and buying more, as if they didn't have problems in spending. This time round we aren't noticing this."