Ernesto and Óscar live at the foot of Puerta del Sol. Their balcony opens onto Calle del Arenal, in the same block where a trail of people patiently wait in line to access La Mallorquina. Inside the building, the rattle of the wooden stairs contrasts with the calm that is breathed inside the apartment. “The windows are double,” says one of them. The rent? “It’s not that expensive, as long as you are solvent and don’t make a mess.” The problem actually lies out there. When the sun goes down, high decibels of street music they intermingle with the constant wandering of pedestrians, eager for a Christmas season that this year has come to drop. The pandemic sweeps wherever it goes and the grapes, until now inexorable tradition at Kilometer Zero, were not going to be less. “It is logical that there are no grapes in Sol, but it would be necessary to watch the rest of the days,” warn the two residents, a species in danger of extinction.
The jubilation and the usual confetti after the bells will give way to silence this year. There will be no hugs or massive toasts at Puerta del Sol. 2020 will go as it almost came: with masks and celebrating life and health with the closest in the privacy of each home. The ban on celebrating New Year’s Eve in the streets of the Community of Madrid to prevent the virus from continuing to ravage until the vaccine becomes a reality, will radically change the last night of the year that we all want to leave behind.
Control on floors
As expected, the announcement did not come as a surprise. “Most of the people who come are tourists and this year not many people will be traveling,” predicts a saleswoman. The truth is that the end of the party will not harm too much the thirty shops located around the 12,000 m2 of Puerta del Sol. “That day, most of them close early, except for the nightclubs and nightclubs, which cannot open because of the epidemic,” says the president of the Cava-La Latina neighborhood association. Saturnino Vera, who, beyond commercial activity, focuses on the individual responsibility of citizens.
The merrymaking has been suspended, another controversy that worries the residents of the area is the possible parties inside homes. «In the streets there will be no fuss because the Police are there, but the problem is the floors destined for these illegal events, which are clandestine»Says Leticia García, spokesperson for the Madrid Centro neighborhood coordinator. Questioned by the control, she exposes a direct case that she suffered last weekend: «After 5.30 in the morning I woke up due to the noise they were making inside a tourist apartment. I called the police, but some left at 6, just when the curfew ended.
The particularity of shielding the heart of the capital can cause a chain effect: the dispersion of the revelry to adjacent neighborhoods. In that sense, the regional Executive will not allow acts of bells in any square or public road, which includes the traditional celebration of Puerta del Sol. Last year, 20,000 lucky people entered this enclave to receive 2020 under the great clock of the Royal Post Office.
30,500 kilos of garbage
The solitary scenario that arises for the end of the year will prevent the Urgent Cleaning Service of the City Council (Selur) from having to collect about 30,500 kilograms of waste that the celebration piled up in the central square. Each attendee left an average of 1.5 kilograms of waste. They were 10,000 kilos more than in the previous year, since the grapes were eaten twice as they also celebrated the New Year with Canarian time.
The cleaning device started at 1.30 am and ended at 2.50. In total, 102 workers and 36 mechanics participated, as in the new year of 2018. The party went without incident, only a few falls, burns or alcohol poisoning had to be attended to.
Although the capacity was reduced by 20 percent compared to 2018, the controls they were just as exhaustive, within level 4 of the antiterrorist alert that the country is still in. Therefore, municipal and national agents had to control that each person who entered the space did not do so with firecrackers, glass or blunt objects. glass were replaced by plastic ones.
The Consistory had to design a special safety and mobility device for both December 31 grapes as for the «preuvas». Four access filters were established to the Puerta de Sol with the installation of fences in the Carrera de San Jerónimo-Victoria street (National Police); Calle Alcalá-callejón Caja de Ahorros (National Police); Calle Mayor-travesía Arenal (Municipal Police) and Calle Arenal-travesía Arenal (Municipal Police). An image opposite to the one that will be seen on the 31st, closer to the months in which Spain remained confined.
Oblivious to the overturning, there are many walkers who these days drop by the Puerta del Sol. Some, like Arianna and Miguel, are clear that the suspension of the chimes will not alter the plans of a society, more concerned with organizing the distribution of diners before the limit of 10 people imposed by the authorities. “We will stay at home, like every year,” they say. Thus, with this widespread premise, what will change will be the image of the crowded square that millions of people see every year through the small screen.