Madrid welcomes the New Year almost like it did before the pandemic

Madrid welcomes the New Year almost like it did before the pandemic
Madrid welcomes the New Year almost like it did before the pandemic

posted on 12/31/2021 10:40 pm

(credit: Rebeca MAYORGA / AFP)

About 7,000 people, half the capacity to reduce the transmission risks of covid-19, received 2022 eating grapes in Porta do Sol, in Madrid, at the rhythm of the clock chiming in the square, an exceptional case in Europe.

Hundreds more crowded into the surrounding streets after police security checks. Madrid thus regained the presence of the public to this rite of passage, which last year could only be followed by television.

All AFP interviewees called for a little fun tonight and a 2022 in great health. That’s why “I came to Madrid,” Arantxa Concepción, a social worker from Beasáin (north) told AFP. “I want to have fun,” he added.

“You have to do this once in a lifetime,” added Concepción, protected by a unicorn-shaped cap that, he joked, protects her from the coronavirus.

The famous Madrid square had less than half its capacity of 19,000 people, and the use of masks was mandatory except for eating grapes, but the distance between people was not great.

“We’re all glued to each other. It’s impossible, (but) anyone who wants to come here already knows what they’re exposed to,” admitted Concepción.

Meanwhile, other European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome have again canceled the massive parties in this second end of the year of the pandemic.

The end of the year surprised Spain at the height of the omicron variant, with more cases than ever – more than 160,000 on Thursday – but with almost 90% of those over 12 years fully vaccinated, fewer hospitalizations and deaths.

“Coronaviruses are dangerous, but not as dangerous as the Taliban,” said Ibrahim Satary, an Afghan refugee, who arrived in Spain after the Taliban’s takeover of his country four months ago, in a fluent Spaniard.

“We’ve been through a lot of fear,” he added, dismissing the fear of the disease.

Madrid was also the capital of the party this Friday because, with no more restrictions than the use of masks in the street, it was living one last New Year’s night almost like before the pandemic, with an unusually spring climate.

“You also have to let people enjoy it,” said Carina Rivas, a 22-year-old Mexican from Coahuila, who attends university in Spain.

In contrast, in many other places across the country, such as Barcelona, ​​local authorities have imposed a nightly curfew and club closings.

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