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

Business Beat

Coal Valley Boxing reopens to public Fernie and Sparwood’s Coal Valley Boxing… Continue reading

Sparwood ramps up recreation activities

The district launched their summer camp, a street banner program, and opened the Fitness Centre

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

The Mountain Market showcases local goods

The Mountain Market is held each Sunday morning in Fernie’s Rotary Park

Summer races kick off at Fernie Alpine Resort

FAR jumps into their summer programming with mountain biking and trail running races

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.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

Most Read