Passengers were few and far apart this Wednesday morning in the arrivals hall of terminal T1 at El Prat airport. Most of them were travellers on domestic flights and finding someone from abroad was almost like looking for a needle in a haystack. Since Monday, travellers arriving from a country considered at risk have to prove that they have had a PCR test at most 72 hours before landing in Spain, and that they have tested negative; in other words, that they are not infected. This is a measure that other countries had taken some time ago and that Spain had ignored. Now, however, it seems that the Spanish government has taken it seriously.
Snezana was dragging two suitcases with a firm step, as if he knew perfectly well how to get out of the terminal. This is not easy now, by the way. A single entrance and exit has been set up to access the car park, on floor zero, where the buses have a stop and taxis queue up to pick up customers. Also there, outdoors, is where those who are picking up passengers have to wait. It is totally forbidden to enter the terminal unless, of course, you have a boarding pass to travel.
"I think it's impossible to escape from the airport without a PCR," Snezana said, speaking in perfect Spanish. She had arrived in Barcelona from Serbia and said that she had been asked for the result of the test in Belgrade before boarding and in the Catalan capital shortly after landing. And in Istanbul, where she had stopped over, her temperature was taken.
"Once you pass the passport control, a lot of people are waiting for you". She described the army of workers wearing yellow vests, masks and protective screens that she had come across in El Prat before baggage reclaim: some had checked her origin, others had filled in a health form and, finally, an official had asked her for the result of the famous PCR. "As always, here in Spain, one speaks little English - it was the only problem she had found - but by making signs, you can also get across.
Ivan Pashkov had also arrived in Barcelona on the same flight from Istanbul, but had started his journey in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. He left for the arrivals hall in El Prat pushing a cart loaded with two suitcases and looking confused. And for a good reason: the lobby now looks like ground zero. There's not a soul. All the shops are closed and the bars are closed, and you can hardly feel the typical loudspeaker messages that are repeated insistently in all airports. Only once in a while do you hear: "Keep your distance and respect hygienic measures; we remind you that it is mandatory to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth". Curiously, one of the very few establishments which remains open is the tourist information office which, as if it were a sign, is right next to the airport chapel. Perhaps only by praying will we get the tourists back.
"Yes, yes, I have the PCR," answered the solicitous Ivan when asked about the test and starting to look for the paper with the result in a bag. "I thought I had to show it again, as I have been asked so many times." He had been asked to do so in Saint Petersburg, in Istanbul and also in Barcelona, He said.
Txus and Ferran had also been asked for the test when they landed in El Prat this morning. They arrived with almost no luggage from Paris and confessed that it had been an odyssey for them to complete the procedure. They had travelled to Paris for work for only two days, so they had no time to take the PCR test in France. "We did it in Barcelona on Monday, before we left. The result is negative, but perhaps we were infected later, in France".