Former Huddersfield gymnast and pub landlord Brian Hayhurst and his wife Elaine are ex-pats who have lived just outside Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol for 20 years. Here are his thoughts on post-lockdown life in Spain.
Firstly, thank you for inviting me to join the Huddersfield Hub team. I look forward sending updates from here in Spain to my home town.
There’s so much to cover but I hope to enlarge on ever changing topics of interest in the weeks ahead.
With Brexit concerns taking a back seat, and lockdown restrictions showing signs of receding, people in the UK are optimistically booking Easter and summer holidays in droves, which is manna from heaven for Spain which has seen its tourism and associated businesses, devastated with the pandemic.
The airport operator, AENA, has reported an 87% drop in passengers into Spain during the pandemic and for some seeking to get into business here, there will be hundreds of bars and restaurants up for grabs (if they dare take the plunge!)
Our Malaga province has recently lifted restrictions which had halted people moving between towns, as Andalucía in general is reporting a huge and fast decline in Covid cases. But the vaccine programme is slow in coming to fruition with very few getting the jab.
A Spanish minister has said that negotiations are in progress with a pharmaceutical company to manufacture its own vaccine to add to the sluggish delivery from the UK.
There are many people with properties here desperate to come back (once allowed). They fear that their empty holiday homes may attract the growing number of squatters, assisted by greedy mafia groups.
Squatters move in with children which makes them difficult to evict and, in most cases, wreck their cherished property and sell on the furniture!
There are now a growing number of ex-pats who have taken up permanent residence, which entitles them to return freely to Spain.
This entails declaring all assets, properties and funds etc for taxation purposes. The fines for misinformation are astronomic.
Otherwise (once restrictions are lifted) holiday home owners can only stay for 90 days per year and there is no escape as your passport chip records all journeys in and out.
A number of estate agents may go under but those who are somehow managing to weather the storm and work hard are still reporting sales.
Estate agent Karen Poland, a good friend of ours, said: “There are not many potential customers at the moment from the UK of course, but those eager to snap up a bargain in the sun are using FaceTime live property tours or getting trusted friends to negotiate on their behalf.”
Marbella still seems to attract wealthy buyers and the Spanish Tourist Board now has a special company in Saudi Arabia hoping to double the number of Saudi tourists.
After the first wretched lockdown, which kept everyone indoors except for food and taking rubbish to bins, we are now able to enjoy going out to bars, shops and restaurants.
But it all ends abruptly at 6pm and we have to be off the streets by 10pm…at the moment.
It has meant a lifestyle change for everyone, nationwide, where we are coming home, normally at a time we were getting ready to venture out. Imagine how the Spanish families are coping, as they often don’t usually start eating until 9.30pm…