Madrid locals have actively started to forge brand new communities together in this era of social distancing. Across Spain, people are gathering in new and amazing ways to set up support groups, sing with their neighbors, take classes, go to parks and enjoy tapas again. Fortunately, we can all stay connected, explore Spanish culture and build relationships by following some simple adjustments of social distancing. Here are the top 5 tips to help you get adapted quickly with social distancing in Madrid:
1. Social greetings: Practice giving "codo con codo" or elbow bumps in Spanish when you meet up with friends, classmates, language exchange partners or get introduced to Spanish locals.
2. Wear a facemask: In public spaces, every Madrileño, including students, are required to wear a face mask in public transport, taxis, Ubers, supermarkets, shops and any public indoor facilities. Spanish authorities want people to wear cloth face coverings in public settings especially when around people who don´t live in your housing and when keeping a distance is difficult to maintain. Medical masks in Spain can be purchased at 95 cents each in pharmacies or you can buy reusable face coverings with or without designs in many Madrid shops and stores, anywhere from 3 to 10 euros. If you have a medical condition that can cause breathing problems and prevents you from using a face mask, this is medically and socially accepted.
Madrid, like many other European cities, has a community of residents who are deaf or hard of hearing. These residents may be unable to wear a conventional face mask as they rely on lip-reading or sign language to communicate with others. Many shops sell alternate, clear face coverings to help facilitate their continued integration into day to day activities.
3. Organize Outdoor Meetings: Enjoy outdoor parks and terraces for drinks and meals up to a maximum of ten people at large tables. All the bars and restaurants have to measure legal distances and placed furniture at a safe distance from others as this will help prevent spreading the virus to others.
4. Engage in Healthy Exercise: Taking a break from your virtual worlds and exercising outdoors in free, public parks – such as the Retiro, Madrid Rio or the Parque Rosales -- is allowed while keeping six feet physical distance from others. When you are engaged in high-intensity activities, such as yoga, running, hiking, biking, skating, etc. you may not be able to wear a face mask if it causes breathing difficulty. In Madrid, you can remove your face covering while keeping a physical distance from others.
5. Become a Hand Gel Sweetheart: Wash your hands regularly with alcohol hand gel, or hand soap, for at least 20 seconds. You will find that restaurants, shops, gyms, supermarkets and the CIEE classrooms, housing and facilities all have hand gels at the door entrance. You may even want to try out the uniquely Spanish olive oil soaps while in Madrid.
Apply these tips while you discover this unique time in the Spanish capital and you will be even more motivated to explore the value and power of community in Spain. We are all members of many different communities: our neighborhoods, families, countries, faith circles, etc. Social distancing has been accepted in very good ways here in Madrid and it will make your study abroad experience in the Spanish capital unforgettable.