The town of Zahara de la Sierra in southern Spain was once used to deter enemies. This fortress witnessed many invasions, including the French attack in 1812. At the present time, the elevated position of Zahara has turned it into a “priceless” land during the pandemic. Covid-19.
A corner of town Zahara.
On March 14, Zahara “cut off” himself to the outside world when the Covid-19 epidemic broke out nationwide. Mayor Santiago Galván decided to block four of the town’s five entrances on the day Spain declared a pandemic emergency.
As of April 6, the country had 135,032 cases of infection (the second highest in the world) and 13,055 deaths. Meanwhile, Zahara has not recorded any positive cases among the 1,400 residents. It is known that towns and villages near Zahara were infected and died from Covid-19. Mr Galván told CNN: “It’s been more than two weeks without anyone getting sick. I think it’s a good sign.”
The mayor of the town, Mr. Santiago Galván.
His drastic move has been strongly supported by the people, especially the elderly. Nearly a quarter of the population of Zahara is over 65 and even several generations of families have up to 30 people living in the same house.
From the white houses and the narrow path clinging to Zahara’s hillside, one can see the reservoir and the olive grove. This is a fairly popular tourist destination for travelers from around the world. Mr. Galván said that for the first few days, they had to refuse tourists from France and Germany, who were unaware of the local authorities’ containment measures.
The only entrance to the town was always guarded by a police officer and two men dressed in protective clothing sprayed disinfectant. Vehicles even have to go through a mixture to get their tires sterilized. According to Mr. Galván, such measures can be effective from 20% to 80% and also have the effect of reassuring people.
The town’s checkpoint.
The same precautions are applied in Zahara. Every Monday and Thursday, at 5:30 pm, a group of about 10 people will disinfect the town, from the streets, squares to outside the houses.
Volunteers sprayed the town’s disinfectant.
A local business is hiring two women who specialize in delivering groceries and health care to people to reduce the number of people on the street. They work about 11 hours a day and their order books are always full. Ms. Auxi Rascon, one of the women, said: “They are very happy that they do not have to go out. They feel safe. Local authorities responded quickly and took appropriate measures at the right time. “The anti-epidemic results are very good.”
In addition, Zahara’s Women’s Union takes care of the elderly who cannot cook by setting food at the door. They also set up a Facebook page for older residents to share photos from the old days. Luisa Ruiz Luna, the initiator, said: “This is a way for the Zahara people living abroad to interact with us more.” The town is also equipped with two cars decorated with lights and music so children can go to the balcony to look.
The economics of hundreds of small Spanish towns like Zahara are all contributed by family businesses and are autonomous. During a national emergency, the town council used the contingency fund to cover the costs of electricity, water and taxes for local businesses. Without this measure, Zahara restaurants and bars – places that rely heavily on tourism would go bankrupt due to the impact of the pandemic.
For Galván, it was not just financial aid but also keeping Zahara as a community. However, if the emergency lasts any longer, he believes Zahara will need the help of Madrid or the higher authorities.