Santiago Updates November 2020

Yesterday was one of those rare days, for this time of year when the sun was shining and the sky was a gorgeous blue. So I went for a walk through town to take some photos …

Allotments, town hall and cathedral.

As I walked I noticed how quiet the city has become again. There are many reasons for this:

Perimeter Confinement
Like in many other parts of Spain, non-essential travel in and out of Santiago isn’t allowed anymore. This means that there aren’t any tourists and other visitors coming into the city. The only ones allowed to travel to/from Santiago are people that work here and live somewhere else or vice versa, need to visit a doctor, an office, schools, and other educational institutions. As for …

Rua do Villar, only us locals around.

Pilgrim Numbers
There is one exception to the ‘no non-essential travel rule’ and this was made for pilgrims that started their Camino before the 30th of October and can prove this with stamps in their pilgrim passport. These pilgrims are allowed to continue to Santiago, collect, if they wish so, their Compostela, and then must travel home. And no, they can’t continue to Fisterra and/or Muxia. That means that pilgrim numbers have dropped considerably, the last few days <50 pilgrims arrived each day and the number is dropping each day more. For the moment the Pilgrim Office is still open, but Pilgrim House has already closed for this winter.

Nobody is waiting before the Pilgrim Office.

Nightly Curfew
From 23:00 to 06:00 we have now a curfew, meaning we all need to stay at home unless we have an essential reason (health, work, care for others, and the like) to go out. That is the one restriction that affects me the least, in these times and with our winter weather, I prefer anyway to stay home in the evenings.

Closure of Bars, Cafes, and Restaurants
Whilst albergues, hotels, and pensions are allowed to stay open but have very few clients due to the travel restrictions, all bars, cafes, and restaurants are closed until, at least, the beginning of December. They are only allowed to offer take-away and home delivery services. Needless to say, that will be a death blow for many of the smaller ones that have already suffered so much.

No Socialising
That is the hardest one for me, as I am living alone. Officially we aren’t even allowed to meet up with someone, that doesn’t live in the same household, for a walk. No idea how that can be controlled but that are the rules. Visits to each other’s homes are also prohibited unless you provide care for an elderly relative and similar cases. With Pilgrim House now closed for the winter, my real-life interactions are pretty much reduced to chats with the neighbours from my balcony and chance encounters in the street. As much as I appreciate Zoom and similar platforms, it is simply not the same.

Other Restrictions
There are some more restrictions in place like the number of people allowed in a shop at the same time, for example, but all non-essential shops and services are, at the moment, allowed to stay open. But with close to no visitors to the city, many small shops that rely on tourists for their trade, have decided to close down. Some might never open again. Also, masks must be worn at all times outside our own homes, only exceptions small children under six.

Camino Situation
Bearing in mind the ever-changing restrictions and perimeter confinements, many albergues have now closed down earlier than usual for the winter. Whilst the Camino isn’t officially closed, the travel restrictions and insecure accommodation situation make a pilgrimage very difficult, if not impossible, at these times.

Holy Door and Holy Year
The only thing we know so far for sure is that Don Julian, the archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, will open the Holy Door on the 31st December 2020 to inaugurate the Holy Year 2021. How many people will be allowed to attend will depend on the pandemic situation at that time. Also, so far, the question of if the Holy Year will be extended into 2022, something the archbishop has to ask from the pope, has always been answered with: “That will be decided closer to the time.” Which could well mean that this will be decided some when in the first half of 2021.

The renovation of the cathedral continues.

Sorry that this is a bit of a doom and gloom post again, but that is the situation here. Stay well, safe, and sane, and keep your distance from everybody that doesn’t live in the same household as you. So that, when this is over, and we can see each other again, nobody is missing.

Just some lovely autumn colours …

9 thoughts on “Santiago Updates November 2020”

  1. Thank you for such detail information. I was supposed to ‘finish’ the Portuguese Camino this year, together with my children, but we have decided to leave it for 2021. We may now postpone it until 2022. Here in UK the situation is not good and travelling to Spain at the moment is just imposible and even not allowed. We all really miss our time in the Camino but I am sure we will be there again.
    Keep safe and keep the hope and all the best for all.

  2. Thank you for this update. Still hoping to visit in 2021. Much love to you all keeping the faith there xx

  3. Hola, Sybille,
    Thank you for the November update. We are so sorry that things are so difficult in Santiago and indeed in Spain.
    We are experiencing more cases of Covid here in Alberta and Canada. It is a trying time to be sure.
    Please know that we are sending our prayers to all for health and peace.
    Carol and Denis

    1. Hi Carol and Denis, sorry to hear that you’re also experiencing rising case numbers! Prayers for you and yours also, SY

  4. Thank you for taking the time to give us an update.

    Sad times yes, Gethsemane and the days thereafter were also sad, but after to that sadness we were given hope through the resurrection.
    Thank you for your time, thank you for the care you give your neighbours, thank you for being there in the past and in the future for many pilgrims.

    Thanks to medical developments there is a glimmer of light in the current darkness.

    Maybe soon the Albergues can reopen to those who have developed the antibodies naturally or through having a vaccination.

    I have restarted my thoughts on a 2022 pilgrimage.

    Again thanks for your ongoing help.

    1. Hi Jim, yes, a vaccine seems to be at the horizon and I think you are very wise to think of 2022 or so for your pilgrimage. Let’s hope that the times to come will be less difficult and a true resurrection in many aspects.
      Blessings to you and yours from Santiago, SY

  5. Sybille,

    Thanks for the update on the current situation in Santiago and the camino. It is good to know but difficult to hear. I’m sure it is tough to live too. God willing we will get through this and be better for it.

    Stay safe and may God bless you and all of our family, friends, and pilgrims.

    Mike Savage

    1. Hi Mike, sorry, your comment got buried 😉 Yes, it’s pretty much ‘hibernation time’ here in Santiago and on the Caminos. With a vaccine on the horizon, that hopefully will work well!, there is now some hope for re-building. Blessings and hugs from Santiago to you and yours, SY

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