Pāpāmoa residents Graeme and Brenda Yates were in Spain as part of a five-year trip around Europe when Covid-19 hit.

The couple was forced into lockdown with strangers in a remote, rural village near Malaga.

"We knew that these cases were starting to arise in the centres like Madrid and Barcelona," said Graeme Yates. "So we made a mental note that we avoid these places."

"We were sat here watching the news and you could see the figures rising but there were still massive gatherings."


After seeing Kiwis back home in social media questioning the rules around lockdown, Graeme felt he had to respond.

"I just felt I had to say something because they're just not taking this seriously. They're looking for excuses, you know. Is Kmart open? There's nothing in Kmart that you need right now," he said.

"I noticed a guy who said we've haven't had a death yet and I said if you went back three weeks in Spain they could say the same thing ... and now there are 8000 deaths."

New Zealand has now had its first death and the government continues to remind us to keep our distance, something echoed by Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell.

"We appreciate that everyone wants to look after their mental health as they do their physical health and we encourage people to do that but following the 2 metre rule," said Powell.

Restrictions in Spain are now tighter than when the country first went into lockdown.

"We're basically stuck here now, not allowed out of the house for any reason other than grocery shopping, pharmacy or the bank and one person per time, no excuses. There's no going out for a walk or anything like that," Graeme said.

The military has also been called in.


"There are drones," said Brenda.

"The police are using drones and choppers in the cities to police it," added Graeme.

The worst news is that after three weeks in lockdown, Spain's number of cases is still rising.

"The numbers seem to be still going in the wrong direction. If that doesn't change in the next week I can see them extending it even further."

But for the time being, they're safe and isolated.

"We're at the mercy of strangers that we've ended up with who are allowing us to stay to ride out this storm. We're luckier than a lot of people because all the hotels are closed."

And after seeing how Spain handled the outbreak, they have a clear message for New Zealanders.

"Follow the advice. Every single contact that you make with another person is a risk ... to yourself and your family. I just don't think it's worth that risk."

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