Waterlooville woman shares her experiences of living in Tenerife during strict lockdown

POLICE road blocks, fines for non-essential shopping and loudspeakers telling people to stay home are a handful of experiences shared by a Waterlooville woman living in Tenerife.

Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 4:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 7:01 pm

Having lived and worked on the largest Canary Island for the last three years, Francesca Lucas has never seen the beaches so empty around her home in Los Cristianos, where she lives with Venezuelan boyfriend Gabriel Rodriguez.

The 26-year-old restaurant worker, who works in popular tourist area Las Americas, has shared what living on the Spanish-governed island has been like since lockdown was announced on March 14.

Residents were informed they could only leave the house to visit the shop for necessary groceries, petrol station, pharmacy or for a medical appointment.

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Francesca Lucas, 26 from Waterlooville, has shared her experiences of living in Tenerife during lockdown. Pictured: Francesca at her job in a restaurant in Las Americas

Dog owners were only allowed within 50m of their home to relieve their pets, and there was no exercise allowance.

Francesca, who is unable to work until restaurants reopen on June 30, said: ‘There were many police road blocks and I have been stopped nearly every time I went to the shop or pharmacy. They asked where I came from, where I was heading to and when was the last time I left the house.

‘It was then their discretion if it was acceptable or if I was to return home.

‘One time I walked to the corner shop which is less than 100m from my apartment and as I stood on my phone to check my shopping list just outside the shop, along came three police vehicles, two motorbikes and one police wagon.

Francesca Lucas, 26 from Waterlooville, has shared her experiences of living in Tenerife during lockdown and images of the empty tourist areas. Pictured: Parque Santiago 6, Commercial Centre, Los Cristianos

‘One of the bikes sped around to me and interrogated me, I was pretty terrified as I am still learning the language and it is daunting to have police speeding towards you. When I was able to point to my apartment he allowed me to continue to the shop.’

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Francesca said she knows people who have received €600 fines each because two people were in the car together, and a manager at her work received a €100 fine because he walked his dog too far from his house, just a five-minute walk away.

A vehicle regularly drives around the town with a large speaker explaining the need to help the health workers by staying at home.

Francesca Lucas, 26 from Waterlooville, has shared her experiences of living in Tenerife during lockdown and images of the empty tourist areas. Pictured: Las Vistas Beach, Los Cristianos

Francesca, who studied at Cowplain Secondary School and South Downs College, was tempted by a friend to work in Tenerife for a summer but she fell in love with sunny island life and stayed.

She said: ‘There is normally so much life and vibrancy in this island and it is sad that it has all been taken away. I am counting down the days for the tourists to return and life can get back to normal.

‘This whole experience has been very challenging to my mental health and there have been days when I have lacked any motivation and have been extremely emotional, especially when I see on social media people still socialising with friends and meeting up when I am being deprived of it.

‘I have had to really work hard trying to avoid thinking negatively and being optimistic. I have been keeping my mind busy by taking an online course to become an English teacher which I can now do online.’

Recent changes to the lockdown strategy as Spain implements its de-escalation plan saw children younger than 14 able to go out once a day up to 1km from their home, and from May 4 all people were able to go on individual exercise, with police closely monitoring where people go.

Although Francesca has been keeping in contact with family in England through video calls and social media, she is missing her friends and relatives.

‘I’m extremely excited to think that soon I will be able to see my friends and their dogs in real life and not just virtually. I’m apprehensive but excited,’ said Francesca, who was been coping by watching Harry Potter films at home.

‘Also the thought of just being able to go out for a walk or jog is delightful, to breathe some fresh air and regain some freedom that we have been restricted of is lovely. I’m proud and very pleased with the Spanish government's approach here, they are taking every precaution necessary.’

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