Greater Trail native Garrett Kucher and Victoria Apostoliuk of Castlegar are patiently riding out the recent lockdown in Murcia, Spain. Kucher, who went to Spain to play professional golf, was caught up in the lockdown ordered by the regional government on Saturday.

West Kootenay couple caught up in Spain’s COVID-19 lockdown

Greater Trail’s Garrett Kucher and Castlegar’s Victoria Apostoliuk wait out lockdown in Murcia, Spain

Fruitvale native Garrett Kucher journeyed to Spain earlier this year to play golf on the Evolve Tour, he ended up in a mandatory lockdown.

Kucher and his partner Victoria Apostoliuk of Castlegar have been living in Murcia, in the southeast of Spain, since November. Faced with a sharp rise in coronavirus on Saturday, the Spanish governement became the second country in Europe to impose sweeping restrictions.

“We found this out Friday night, and on Saturday morning our region was on lockdown,” Kucher told the Times on Sunday. “We headed straight to the grocery store, and everybody was running around, and within the next morning we were on lockdown.”

Related read: Top Tour finishes for Greater Trail golfer

Related read: Golfer Garrett Kucher ready to play for Tour Cards

The regional authorities put almost 400,000 residents of Murcia’s coastal towns under lockdown, while warning visitors from Madrid and elsewhere to stop heading for the seaside and risk spreading the virus further.

Kucher said that the Spanish army was patrolling the city, and if caught out on the street, residents could be fined 1,000 Euros. On Monday, Spain increased the fines to almost a half-million Euros for repeat offenders.

Supermarkets remain open, but only one person per household can leave at a time to get supplies and return straight home.

“It’s kind of set in today,” said Kucher. “We’re trying to take it easy on each other, because we’re in a two bed, two bath apartment, but we have my friend staying with us. Our living quarters it’s great, we’re in a really good spot, and we have lots of food and water.”

However, the biggest obstacle for Kucher and Apostoliuk may be the language barrier.

“It’s a foreign country, nobody speaks English at all in the south of Spain. We have no idea when we’re going to get out of the country. If they lift this in 15 days there could be thousands of people trying to leave the country in the days following this.”

The young couple tried to contact the Canadian Embassy but it was closed on the weekend. They were transferred to Ottawa, were told to make the best of their situation, and wait and try the Embassy again.

Spain has registered nearly 3,000 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, raising the total number of cases to over 11,000 on Tuesday, the health ministry said, with 491 deaths.

There were more than 2,000 infections detected between Saturday and Sunday when the number of deaths rose by around 100 and the restrictions were put in place.

Of the total number, Madrid remains the worst-affected region, with over 9,000 cases. They also reported that the prime minister’s wife, Maria Begona Gomez Fernandez, has tested positive for the virus.

In order to rein in the virus, Spain has declared a state of alert, shutting all but essential services and ordering its population of 46 million people to stay at home. People are only authorized to go out to buy food or medicine, to go to work or to get medical treatment.

“It’s scary for us because we are actually living this pandemic, and getting shutdown,” said Kucher. “Everyone back home isn’t living the situation we are, even though the panic is becoming more real at home too.”

In the event either Garrett or Victoria should come down with symptoms, they are required to contact the health authority.

“They’ve given us a number to call if you feel you’re having any symptoms at all,” said Kucher. “If you feel sick you call the number and they’ll send out a health and safety team to come give you a test in your house, so you actually keep yourself quarantined.”

The response team assesses how severe the case is on an individual basis, and treats it accordingly. But there remain a lot of questions if one of them should come down with the virus.

Not only is there a language barrier, but a good possibility that they would be separated, with little communication, no visiting privileges, and the uncertainty as to how long the quarantine will last.

Spanish ministers said on Monday that the state of emergency will have to be extended beyond an initial 15-day period, and the government reported that it will also close the border with Portugal.

“Obviously we will have to extend this situation…in 15 days I do not think that we will be in a position to win this battle,” Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos told RNE radio.

As for golf, Kucher had a great start on the Evolve Tour, earning a top-5 and top-20 finish, and was looking forward to the Haciendo del Alamo Tournament next month, and the European Challenge Tour’s Prague Open and Swiss Challenge this summer. But while Kucher sits in isolation, looking across the highway at his current golf course, he cannot help but ponder the irony.

“I feel healthy, I’ve been playing tons of golf, am in a really good spot, and the sponsors are really happy. It’s just ‘wow!’ I have to sit on my balcony and stare out at the golf course that’s 20-feet from me, and I usually play every day … but I’m on lockdown.”

Attempts to book flights out of Spain have failed, and the West Kootenay couple have no idea how they are going to get out of the country when and if restrictions are eased.

As for any advice on how to prepare for COVID-19 virus.

“Obviously you do need to go out and buy food, and supplies and stuff, but keep it to a minimum,” added Kucher. “We just got what we need, the supermarkets will stay open, they’re not going to cut you off. Stay home and take the safety precautions, because we’re living it right now. Reality is reality, and it’s here and it’s pretty serious.”



sports@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

MP Morrison pushes for accountability following federal fiscal update

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian says it is time to restart the economy

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Prohibited driver ticketed after rollover on Highway 1 near Salmon Arm

Jeep Cherokee hit rock face before rolling multiple times

Village of Keremeos looks to dismantle systemic racism

Mayor says the time is right to deconstruct racist institutions

Penticton woman struck by mystery bullet

Woman suffers no major injuries; RCMP without any leads, investigation continues

COVID-19 exposure on Kelowna flight

Interior Health has capacity to test individuals who need it, but is reminding everyone that testing is not required for those who do not have symptoms

Kelowna COVID-19 cluster identified after private parties

Risks ‘considerably higher’ while attending private events, said Health Minster Adrian Dix

Use of safety flares prompt search on Shuswap Lake

Marine search and rescue crew finds boat unoccupied, no one in distress

Foul play not currently suspected in death of man found near Sicamous

Body found in woods near vehicle linked Edmonton Police Service investigation of suspicious death

Drive-by shooting in Kamloops

This is the second drive-by shooting in the city in the last two weeks

Most Read