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Day 130 Update: Phrase of the Week “Micro Confinement”

21 July 2020 - 

Hi there,

Greetings from Barcelona, yep the world is still spinning and the sun came up today. Been getting a few requests so here’s an update from this part of the world.

To start off here’s a 2:00 video of what the city looked like when everything was closed. Turn up your volume, the quiet is striking.

Phrase of the Week

“Micro Confinement” - When your neighborhood has an outbreak and you get the pleasure of staying home for weeks on end.

A little perspective on case count. As if the above phrase does not capture it enough. It really depends where you live.

Yay! We’re number one... for the new outbreak. Darn.

Our neighborhood is practicing saying “micro confinamiento”. Yes, it’s very similar in Spanish and Catalan. I’ve been practicing verb conjugation, thank goodness it’s a regular “AR” verb. The subjunctive will be important as there will always be a lot of “doubt” when using this verb. We expect to not be allowed to leave our homes sometime this week.

Catalan: Micro Confinament

Spanish: Micro Confinamiento

German: Mikroeinschluss

French: Sûrement pas

The numbers 1, 2, 3…

So for a little perspective, here’s a sampling from a few places. 

Total Cases

Since the outbreak began in February-March, we’ve had about ⅓ of all cases in our neighborhood in the last 7 days. We have outdoor terrace restaurants, young people and tourist apartments.

New Cases from 14 - 20 July 2020 

Human nature. Folks kind of forgot the virus never really went away. A few weeks ago I was helping a neighbor move items out of a storage place. He showed up without a mask because “it was all over”. When I quoted the actual number of folks currently infected in our neighborhood - he put a mask on. He’s since left the city for the summer.

Active Case Count

5

  • Excluding my home, the number of doors I’ve walked through since March 13th:
    • Vet Clinic
    • Vet Emergency Hospital
    • Grocery Store
    • Clay/Ceramic Supplier
    • Pharmacy

And then in the category of “as if that weren't enough”.

1 - 2 

Opening up then shutting down

We were allowed out for about 6 weeks. The provisions for preventing the spread were pretty darn good.

  • Wear masks indoors and outside if you cannot socially distance
  • Limited store occupancy by 50%
  • Bars and restaurants opened up three weeks ago at 50% capacity
  • All busses have protective screens and two stops at each stop. The first for people to get off. Then 100 ft ahead the second for people to get on.
  • Free masks for the subway.

Compliance was also very respectable. Spain was one of the best countries for mask wearing at about 85-88%. Folks actually followed the instructions. Then our region, Catalonia, a few weeks ago made it compulsory to wear a mask in public 100%.

This helps get the masks off of people's wrists - elbows - chins etcetera. 

Now walking down any street most folks are keeping their distance and wearing masks. The city has closed a lot of streets to traffic so they are pedestrian only or 50% of the road space is for pedestrians and bikes. It makes for great walks around the city.

Barcelona Now

We’re going backwards. We went back to one step before total lock down. 

Here’s a nice video summary of the situation here in Barcelona.

Other notes of “now”. We go for a walk every morning. On the days we pass through one of the main squares in town there is now a very very very long line of folks waiting for food. Probably over 1,000 every day, blocks long, at only one place, of many, that distributes free food.

People out asking for food or money are new. We know the local people and now there are new people out asking for food and it’s apparent that this is something new to them too.

Contact Tracing

The mayor is upset as the regional government failed to set up adequate contact tracing. She never ever says anything publicly to criticize folks - so this means she’s very not happy. The highlight of her press conference was her mentioning the few contact tracers there were took “weekends off”, only working Monday to Friday.

As far as we can see without robust contact tracing and testing  (like way more than you ever think you will need) there is no way to return to a new normal of society. By that I mean 100% face masks and social distancing probably for at least 1 to 2 years is what we’re currently planning.

Here’s a more detailed account of the contact tracing mess, if you have any interest.

Takeaway: setup contact tracing now (yesterday) or never get out of this.

The last few weeks we’ve been tracking the numbers and just looking around. It’s our opinion the government is just holding their breath and hoping to make it through the summer tourist season. It’s now clear that’s not going to happen.

We’ve been planning for a second lock-down since June. So we’ve been getting what we need and we’re all set for a good while. That planning really helps. For example during lock down grocery delivery was completely overwhelmed and booked out for weeks, so we’ve been making sure we have what we need.

Virus Catching Fatigue

Yeah we’ve got lot’s of cases of that. Crap this sucks. So what, move forward.

What we do, we have:

  • We have outside shoes.
  • 5l of hand sanitizer.
  • We have 3 hand pump bottles of sanitizer in the house and wash our hands about every two hours - for 21 seconds.
  • “Outside box”, where we put everything that leaves the house, wallets, pens, paper, credit cards, grocery point cards, sun glasses… you get the idea. It is at the front door.
  • We wash all clothing once they’ve been outside immediately
  • We each have 3 - 4 masks and Wendy makes batches of masks about every week for our neighbors - if they cannot afford or get them how do they wear them?
  • We shower each time we are outside on the street for a significant time.
  • We buy everything we can online for delivery.
  • We spray most everything (except fruit and veggies) with bleach solution for 10 minutes when it enters the house. Yes ALL groceries plus everything else.
  • We go every day on a 1 to 2 hour walk around the city. (Until they don’t let us.)

OK so it’s tedious, you all are probably experiencing the same.

So there’s infographic material below. The first two are mine and the third one is from a friend, but he’s right. Here’s three things I’ve come up with to keep me going. I just remember these three simple things and so far it might be helping:

  1. Doors = Danger - If there is a door, DO NOT GO IN. Got it?
  2. The Virus Doesn’t Care - I’m exhausted/tired/can’t/don’t  - go and do what you need to do to stay safe because the virus doesn't care if you are tired, had a bad day, things broke. Get up - motivate yourself to do what you need to do to stay safe. If not, well, that’s not good.
  3. People Are Idiots - Just walk away. They or their mother will be in the ICU soon enough.

Tourism

Yes some folks are coming to Barcelona. My best guesstimate from the sound of suitcase wheels rolling down our textured sidewalks is that is about 10 - 15% of normal. The hostel on our street is still closed. The fancy hotel around the corner is still closed.

My most striking experience is seeing a few backpacking kids showing up from the airport, standing outside their Airbnb or hostel. They are just sitting there on the sidewalk wide-eyed in fear as they stare at every single person walking by them with a mask-on. You can see the fear and panic on their faces. It’s one of those situations you can imagine a person walking into a war zone the first time.

In sum, as France considers closing the border again, tourism is not coming back anytime soon.

Property Prices

In looking at property prices they appear to have dropped about 10 - 15% for apartments. It appears to be more of folks putting the actual price they want on the property. There also are some really good deals (30 - 40% discounts) being listed for commercial property and whole apartment buildings.

I assume for projects that folks cancelled, or workshops of people that decided it’s time to retire.

As if that wasn’t enough...

The world keeps moving. A thing of perspective. Since March in Barcelona there have been three separate raids arresting suspected islamic terrorists. Here’s one link, another here and here’s another.

Our Business

We’re still chugging along. Our accountant when filing our quarterly taxes for us, told us “at least you are open and selling things.” So others are not doing so well, and our “well” is pretty pathetic.

  • Our shop is open by appointment opening. Here’s a 1:30 video of us opening up.
  • We've setup "new ways to shop" to get folks buying.
  • We've gone to great lengths to get people feeling safe and change how we operate.
  • We’ve tripled our online community of contacts in the last little while. Now we have plans to make it grow 10x in 90 days. Let’s see. With that size of community and contacts we hope to have a good chance of recuperating the sales we’ve lost to other channels.
  • We’re working on a few brand collaborations with some local and regional folks. We completed a project with a wedding magazine in France/Germany and have a second in the works.
  • We've got two new small product lines ready to go with a lower price point, just need to get to those photos.
  • 50% of our last month’s orders were repeat customers. Your best customers are the ones you already have.

The Economy

A real head scratcher. Basically waiting until after summer vacations in September to see who opens back up and who does not. At that point it should be pretty simple to count the devastation.

There certainly will be investing opportunities, a lot of these businesses are good solid businesses. They just cannot survive an economic Tsunami.

One Other Change

As we’re kind of stuck over here in Europe, we’ve decided to sell our VW Campervan we have in the US. If you know anyone interested here’s a link to info about it.

Or as my marketing self would put it: we are selling an amazing smile creating adventure machine.

And Then Just for Fun

I found myself! I was verifying the address of a raided drug house in Barcelona. Yep, I got Google Maps tags for each one - I know I’m a bundle of fun. All I need now is a police scanner and I’m ready to retire.

So while doing this I found myself on Google Street View. Um… yep right in front of the drug house too. Just peddling by. That’s me in the blue shirt on the red bike right behind the Google Maps car.

Hope you all stay healthy and safe in our new world.

If you know of anyone that needs corporate gifts, getting married, just broke a plate or is in need of a fine handmade coffee cup (more online soon) here’s how we can help out.

Oh and wash your hands,

Wendy and Eric

Taller Gingell Barcelona

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