Learn Spanish in Spain in times of COVID-19
If you are thinking about flying to Gran Canaria to learn Spanish in Spain, you might be asking yourself two questions: Is is possible? Is it worth it to go now? Good news, the answer to both questions is a clear: In Gran Canaria, YES. Our Spanish school has ben opened ininterruptedly since July 2020. With the lowest COVID-19 numbers in Europe throughout the pandemic and the best possible weather conditions to prevent infections, Gran Canaria is the place to be if one wants to enjoy life and a great vacation experience, even in times of COVID-19. Check out this article to know more about the safety meassures in our school, day-to-day life in Gran Canaria and the evolution of the pandemic and its figures in Gran Canaria.
Life in Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria’s weather has always been one of its main advantages as a holiday destination. With temperatures around 20ºC-25ºC all year around it is perfect for all travellers seeking to escape the winter or enjoy the island’s coast or beautiful landscapes. This everlasting summer has now an even greater importance to fight COVID-19 and maintain a low pandemic risk level. Thanks to it people spend most of their social and leisure time outdoors and indoor locations are adequately ventilated. Thanks to these unique conditions in Europe, Gran Canaria has remained a holiday paradise, also in times of COVID.
How is life in Gran Canaria? What can you do? Here are a couple of examples:
- Going to the beach. You can go to the beach almost any day of the year in Gran Canaria, with temperatures above 20ºC, also in winter. You have to wear your face mask on the way to the beach and to enter the beach. Once you have chosen the spot in the sand where you want to enjoy your day, you can take of the mask and breath, sunbathe, swim, surf or exercise. It‘s a great pre-pandemic sensation, and you can have it anyday.
- Enjoy life and excercise in nature. Wearing a face mask is mandatory in any closed spaces and also outdoors within the city. However, once you leave the metropolitian area you can take of your mask, as long as you can maintain a 1,5 meters distance to everybody else (besides the people you are living with). Taking a walk in nature without a mask is also one the of the pleasures you can enjoy on a daily basis in Gran Canaria. Natural spots are all over the island, and can be reached within 20 minutes from the city.
- Discover the Spanish gastronomy. Not a sinlge day since June 2020 have the restaurants in Las Palmas closed. Because the risk level has remained low throughout the pandemic, meassures to close bars and restaurants have not been yet undertaken. Only in specific weeks wigh higher than usual figures have the indoor areas of the restaurants closed. Because of the constant good weather, most of restaurants and bars in Gran Canaria have a terrace, so that they have remained open the whole time. From the second you receive your first beer on the table, until you have finnished your dessert, you can enjoy the Spanish cuisine mask-free.
- Shopping and everything else. You might have heared that some touristic locations look like a post-apocaliptic movie, without tourists and no opened stores, bars... Although this might be sadly true for some mass tourism locations in the islands, the city of Las Palmas (the 9th city in Spain) experiences a close to normal life since June 2020. People drive to work, go for lunch with colleagues, meet with friends at a bar at night, go shooping in the weekend. Canarian people and businesses respect the restrictions (mainly wearing a face mask and keeping social distance) and since everybody spends much time at a restaurant, the beach or nature a mask-free and safe life is also a day-yo-day pleasure nowadays.
Life at school
Spanish Courses Gran Canaria – Academia El Capitán has been opened since June 2020. We are the only Spanish school in Gran Canaria and one of the few schools in Spain that has remained opened since day 1 after the March-May 2020 Lockdown. We have been offering our group Courses ever since and have never canceled a course. If you want to book a Spanish course in Spain and you want to feel sure about wether it is going to take place or not, our school is ready to welcome you. Even though a Spanish course in Spain is a mix of education and holiday, our main activity remains education. And the Canarian Government has set education on their priority activity list. Meaning that Education is an officialy accepted reason to travel to Gran Canaria and cancelling courses would only happen with a complete lockdown in the Canary Islands, which has never been close to happening since June 2020.
How is life at our school?
- Safety goes first. We put all prevention strategies in place in our Spanish courses. All course participants sit at a safe distance of 1,5 meters to each other at all times. We have always set the focus on small group courses with a max. of 8 students. We want to offer high quality courses, and we don’t think that a class with 10 or 15 students can provide you that. Nowadays to comply with restrictions our groups are even smaller with 4 to 6 students in most classrooms. So that students get even more individual attention than before. All classrooms have windows to the outisde and are constantly open to guarantee ventilation. After every 90 minutes of class we have a break where we open doors and windows widely. Even though wearing a face mask during the class is not optimal, you get used to it and it guarantees the safety of everybody as well as reducing infection risk significantly. Plus, between two 90 minutes class periods, we enjoy a 30-minute coffee break where you can sit at a cafeteria outside and take a rest from the mask while drinking something.
-The Outdoor fun does not stop. Our school is what it is today not only due to our communicative method and small groups. Our innovative Outdoor Classes in the city and our weekly cultural activities have always been the highlight of our courses. They are the perfect chance to practice Spanish in real environments, get to know each other and have fun after class. Among all months and different restriction periods we have experienced, participating in excursions, guided tours, hiking or eating in restaurants has always been possible. Thus, our cultural programm has been working this whole time. Discovering the history oft he city, enjoying the incredible sand dunes, visiting archeological sites and natural protected areas, as well as enjoying the Spanish gastronomy have remained on the weekly menu of our courses.
- Life after school. As explained above, there is a whole range of activities to enjoy your holidays in Gran Canaria, even at an almost pre-pandemic level. Enjoy mask free at your favorit spot of the beach, in Gran Canaria’s breathtaking landscapes or at your favorite restaurant.
- Increased flexibility. We have adapted our Terms & Conditions to the situation of the pandemic. Don’t hesitate to contact us and clear your doubts about course availability or cancellation terms.
The evolution of the pandemic in Gran Canaria
March-May 2020 Lockdown - no 1st wave in Gran Canaria
On March 13th 2020 we were forced to close our Spanish school due to the pandemic outbreak in Spain. Luckily for the Canary Islands the local active COVID-19 infections were very low at the time the Spanish authorities declared the lockdown. This safed the islands from the dramatic situation experienced in Mainland Spain. As of June 6th 2020, Gran Canaria had only had 611 confirmed COVID cases (with a population of 851.231). In Europe it is considered that a rolling 7-day-rate for new cases per 100.000 inhabitants implies a low risk situation. During lockdown this rate didn’t even reach 20 cases per 100.000 habitants in Gran Canaria, and was already below 5 cases per 100.000 inhabitants on April 14th. It is almost as if there was no 1st wave in Gran Canaria.
After the end of the lockwon in June 2020, we reopened our school and life got back to almost normal in the city of Las Palmas. Travellers from all over Europe were able to travel to the island without a need of quarentine when going back to their countries. The second wave than hit Spain in August and this time, also Gran Canaria. However, without a significant impact like elsewhere in Spain or Europe.
A quick and not so harmful summer wave
On August 16th the rolling 7-day-rate was above 50 cases per 100.000 inhabitants for the first time. The regional government of the Canary Islands reacted quickly and introduced new prevention and pandemic control meassures. Wearing a face mask in every closed space (like in our classroom and school) and outside when being in a metropolitan area became mandatory. But there was still the possibility to enjoy the beach and nature without a facemask and a normal life was possible: shopping, eating in restaurants… In only 47 days (October 2nd) the rolling avarage was again below 50 and all travel restrictions from/to Gran Canaria were lifted.
Three idyllic months at low risk
What came afterwards was an idyllic winter start with the rolling 7-day-rate below 50 throughout october, november and december. Some days even below 20. For three months life continued in a beautiful Gran Canaria "winter", without leaving the low risk pandemic level.
A new small wave after christmas
Unfortunately the christmas period had an impact on the cases like elsewhere in Europe and we experienced a new wave, but then again, not comparable to the huge impact in Spain or Europe, with even less casses than in the wave we had in august-september. The 7-day-rate of new cases per 100.000 inhabitant have never reached more then 124 and it has only been above 100 for a total of 21 days, as well as in the summer wave. So that the worst few weeks of the pandemic in Gran Canaria look like most of the good weeks elswewhere. Ob february 20th the rate went back below 50, and has been moving between 50 and 60 since then.
A low-risk oasis in Europe
In conclusion, there is no such a thing as a COVID-free location in Europe. Gran Canaria is however one of the few places where locals and travellers can enjoy an almost normal work, social and leissure time, with a consisten low risk level. The good weather conditions with around 20ºC throughout the whole year, the many possibilities of outdoor leissure and contact with nature, and the regional Canarian Government and society reacting very quickly to any small sign of outbreak are the key elements of this miracle.