Even so, a nurse can be seen at the back of the lobby — near the breakfast room that for months served as medical staff’s makeshift office — organizing boxes of medical gear next to a rail on which blue protective suits are hanging.Outside in the street, deserted when the hotel was taking in COVID patients, cars and people are now passing normally, although everyone is wearing a mask.”The epidemiological situation has changed, we have moved forward a lot. And to be shutting down the hotel now is a reason to be glad,” doctor Maria Pérez-Hervada told AFP.It was here that she spent most of the lockdown as Spain battled the worst of an epidemic that has so far claimed more than 28,300 lives, and infected nearly 250,000 people in the country.”At the start, patients came from hospitals, almost all of them had been in intensive care and some had complications and had to go back,” she said. Later, there were fewer serious cases with guests in recent weeks suffering only light symptoms not requiring hospitalization — but were unable to self-isolate at home.Janela Casandra Armeno, 22, was among them — she spent a week at the hotel with her father-in-law because there “weren’t enough rooms” at home for them to self-isolate.Now, after testing negative, she’s going home.But her father-in-law has to wait a little longer after he and three other patients tested positive, and are being transferred to another hotel in the Melia chain that will remain medically-equipped to handle any new outbreaks. On Wednesday, the last six left the hotel to the applause of the staff, who were exhausted but elated after months of hard work.”We’re empty again, we’re used to the hotel always being busy. It’s been a very special experience, nearly 100 days with patients,” said Hugo Figueroa, 45, a mid-level manager standing at reception. “It’s been emotional.”At the hotel’s entrance, where coaches and ambulances dropped off dozens of patients every day at the height of the crisis, things are beginning to get back to normal. At Barcelona’s Melia Sarria hotel, a line of employees form a corridor to wave goodbye to the last COVID patients who have been staying there. After months of supporting the healthcare system, this musicalized hotel is closing its doors to get ready for its own return to normality although it will be some time before its regular clients return.Since the end of March, more than 500 virus patients have stayed at this 300-room hotel, which at one point counted full occupancy. Neither patients nor tourists With no more patients, the Sarria will start the transformation back, with cleaners taking a week to disinfect different areas and staff shifting beds.Its doors, however, will remain shut until at least September.Although Spain has reopened its borders to EU travellers and those from 15 other countries, the hotel is not expecting enough visitors to warrant reopening and will use the summer for renovations.”We could reopen next week but we’re in financial district which relies on a different type of client,” explained manager Enrique Aranda.”The idea is to reopen in September when there will be more conferences and business clients.”Back at reception, after a group photo with the medical team, Figueroa can’t hide his delight at the thought of once again welcoming regular clients in taxis and limousines.”That’s what we’re looking forward to: a return to some sort of normality,” he said. Topics :
Keatley declared “you need Johnny Sexton in your team” in accepting his fate for France’s Dublin visit – but refused to give up on his Test dream despite a refreshingly frank personal appraisal. “To be honest Johnny’s done so well over the last three or four years he deserves the number-one position,” said Keatley. “He’s one of the best out-halves in the world so to be honest I presume that he’s going to be straight in there for the French match, even though he hasn’t played in a while. “He’s still been keeping fit and you need Johnny Sexton in your team. “I can take a lot of confidence from playing in Italy, but also I need to know where I want to get to. “I know that Johnny is number one, but you can’t just accept that. If you’re looking to play second-fiddle to someone the whole time you’re not going to improve personally. “So that’s what I want to do, I want to keep improving and just keep challenging Johnny and hopefully play in more big games like this. “With the sub position I don’t know what’s going to happen there, I’m just delighted with the win in Italy first and foremost. Press Association “And I can still iron out things in my performance. I’m sure I’ll go through it with Joe (Schmidt) and just look to improve.” Ireland boss Schmidt admitted he felt nerves caught Keatley out at several stages during his fourth Test cap at the Stadio Olimpico. Keatley conceded Ireland’s head coach called his nerves correctly, but pledged to keep his emotions in check in future. The utility playmaker traversed a provincial Odyssey with Leinster and Connacht before finding his Thomond Park niche at Muster and admitted using his circuitous route to the top as his current Test match motivation. “A few times leading up to the match I got nervous, I was just thinking to myself that I remembered watching Ireland winning the Six Nations in France last year,” said Keatley. “And I just remembered how much at the time I wanted to be there. “I was actually watching it on my own at home and I really wanted to be out there. “So whenever I got nervous in the week leading up to this game I just reminded myself, ‘This is where you want to be, so suck it up’. “Nerves can be a positive or a negative in a match, everyone gets nervous because it means so much to you. “If you didn’t get nervous it probably wouldn’t mean much to you. “So it’s just a few deep breaths, with the kicking, out of hand there’s a couple I rushed, but after the first 10 minutes once I got settled I felt comfortable out there. “Not everyone can be a superstar and just break through, you need a little bit of luck. “I’ve made some big decisions in my career, going to Connacht and then Munster: I’ve just been working hard so that if I ever did get this opportunity I would be ready for it. “It is a bit of a roundabout route, but a lot of players have to do it that way. “A lot of players get lucky breaks, they get in, but a lot have to work like I did, to keep fighting and keep improving. “And then some players just fall off as well. And that’s the highs and lows of rugby. “Some players might have to retire through injury, there’s so many ways that make or break you. “It’s a long way around but I’m here at the moment and hopefully I’m going to stay here.” Ian Keatley expects Johnny Sexton to reclaim Ireland’s number 10 jersey – but claimed as “one of the best out-halves in the world” he fully deserves to. Keatley posted a 100 per cent goal-kicking record on his RBS 6 Nations debut as Ireland eased past Italy 26-3 with a staccato performance in Rome. The 27-year-old conceded Sexton should start against France on Saturday, however, with the Racing Metro playmaker finally free to return after an enforced 12-week concussion lay-off.