December 3, 2020

“Today is not normal na”


The public lighting was turned off at 07:40 in the morning. Early risers, mainly senior citizens, joined the line at the carriage entrance of the San Fernando Cemetery in Seville. The public Civil Protection service had cordoned off the access and exit roads and the cemetery staff had placed information posters with the preventive measures of COVID-19 for this bridge of All Saints and Deceased.

It is a designated day on the calendar for the cemetery. José Antonio has arrived first. “In half an hour there is no place. There is always a parking problem here,” he says. He comes to visit his parents and is aware of the special device that the Seville Town Hall has organized to mitigate the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. “The mask, the distance … what we have been doing every day,” he highlights. These measures are mandatory. It is also advisable that groups do not exceed 4 people and the use of hydroalcoholic gel, although there are no dispensers available.

The Junta de Andalucía made a series of recommendations –Such as increasing opening hours, limiting capacity and reducing visitor groups– for Andalusian cemeteries. However, each municipality has put these indications into practice depending on the particularities of its cemeteries. This has caused some citizens not to know what the preventive measures applicable to their locality were. While in cities like Córdoba, the cemetery company has launched a appointment system previous To avoid crowds, in Seville the visit is free. As in Granada.

“There are so many laws now, that one does not know,” is heard in line. The Health counseling He also suggested that visitors bring their own water bottles for filling flower vases and for cleaning niches and tombstones. This is to avoid, as far as possible, the use of water points. “So the sources are open?” Asks a woman. “How could they not be !?”, jumps another loaded with all the equipment for washing the graves of their relatives. A cautious man heard the recommendation on the radio and brought “his little bottle.” “I can’t come loaded with a jug of water on the bus,” another visitor answers. The doubt remains until Antonio appears, who helps at the María Angeles flower stand, adjacent to the cemetery. “The taps are open. They would only close if there were a lot of people,” he explains.

But Agustín has already left the house with a 5-liter bottle of water. “They had told me it was necessary, if not, I won’t bring it.” He comes with his sister and his mother and for them today is another day. “We come every ten days,” he says. They are already used to the security and hygienic measures in the cemetery, but what they are not used to is that “people remember the dead once a year. They put the flowers and until next November.”

“The thing is calm”

Ana, one of the gatekeepers on the main front of the cemetery, acknowledges that there is confusion among citizens because of “what they hear” about the recommendations. Another example is the visiting time that, according to this employee, has made “many older people stay at home.” The health authorities have advised that the visit not exceed 30 minutes, but the Seville consistory ruled out this measure due to the extension and the long distances in the San Fernando Cemetery. Users have been reminded, however, to stay in the cemetery for the necessary time. “You don’t have to stay that long. I’m going to the last wall,” says a visitor, who acknowledges that there has been no clarity with the information.

Beyond the mess, “things are calm,” says Miguel Ángel, another of the doormen at the door of San Jerónimo. His partner Ana emphasizes that “the protocol, in general, is maintained although not everyone comes with the lesson learned.” For this reason, throughout the week the work of the cemetery staff, in addition to the usual load that is borne on these dates each year, has been intensified to ensure compliance with the hygienic-sanitary recommendations.

The special plan developed by the City Council has encouraged citizens to go to the site in a “more staggered manner” although yesterday (on Saturday October 31), says Ana, the influx “was enormous.” Today he expects “a normal day of the dead, but with a pandemic.” A lady, between the mask and the measurements, is clear: “Today it is not normal. There are many people from the towns who have not been able to come.” The perimeter closure of Seville has reduced visits during this weekend, confirm from the cemetery. The reinforcement in urban transport as well as the deployment of the Local Police for the organization of the adjoining car parks has been maintained. “There has been no problem or anything remarkable,” say police sources.

The routine of the All Saints and the Dead festivities is marked this year by the pandemic. Most of the dead do not know about COVID-19. They left without prohibition of kisses and hugs. No masks. If they came back to life, they would wake up early to recognize the new coronavirus routine as the old Macondo inhabitants did after the advent of capitalism.

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