After nearly two months of closure, small businesses in Spain reopened after entering "Phase Zero" of the government's four-phase "asymmetrical" plan to gradually take the country to a "new normality."
Under "Phase Zero," which started on May 4, hairdressers, barbershops, beauty salons and small shops were able to reopen with a 30 percent capacity and service by appointment only.
Shops will also need to adapt to new rules, such as maintaining social distancing, wearing protective face masks and thoroughly disinfecting their premises after each customer.
A week after "Phase Zero," 51 percent of the population were allowed to progress to Phase One on Monday, while regions of Madrid, Catalonia, among others, remained at Phase Zero after failing to meet certain criteria.
"It will be a drastic change for businesses, because we are not used to this.But it is what it is, and we will have to adapt," the President of the Federation of Sant Antoni Traders in Barcelona, Enric Bernaus, told Xinhua.
Salva Vendrell, president of the Barcelona Trade Foundation, a non-profit organization, agreed that shops will have to change their practices and adapt to business under coronavirus.
"Especially in the Mediterranean culture, and in Barcelona, there is a lot of closeness and physical contact," Vendrell told Xinhua."We will have to learn to work differently."
Bernaus believes that shops will have to take the initiative and change their methods of selling in order to attract customers and increase their sales. This will not be easy as most shops in Barcelona are "traditional," but more presence online and strong promotion are essential for businesses to thrive under these new measures, he added.
According to Bernaus and Vendrell, the first few days of reopening did not see a significant flow of customers and were very "strange" and "chaotic," because neither the staff at the shops nor the customers knew how to behave under new circumstances.
"Evidently, 2020 is a lost year; there is no hope. All sectors will have significant losses," Vendrell said.
Businesses have suffered a lot from being closed for two months, and many local businesses in all sectors will not be able to recover from the losses and will have to shut down, Bernaus and Vendrell explained.
"We are talking about normalizing our businesses by 60-70 percent in 2022," Vendrell said."So unfortunately we have one and a half to two years until we are able to normalize our business."
Despite these challenging times, Bernaus sent a message of hope to all shops and invited them to remain united and work together in order to move forward in this "new normality."