WATCH: 'Balcony Bingo' Keeps one Neighborhood Entertained — and United — While Social Distancing
Residents sit on their balconies each night at 6:30 and listen for one neighbor — the designated caller — to shout out the numbers
As the country with the second highest amount of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Europe — and the fourth highest globally — the people of Spain have been put under total lockdown. But in the capital city of Madrid, the residents of one particular apartment complex are refusing to let the isolation get them down.
Cristina Pruenza, a graduate student who lives in the neighborhood with her husband, came up with the idea to bring the community together with a nightly game of bingo. But rather than gather in one room to play, as in standard for a game of bingo, each player participates from their personal apartment balcony in order to keep a safe social distance. There, they listen for one neighbor — the designated caller — to shout out the numbers.
“It helps us stay entertained at night,” Pruenza explained to CN Traveler, explaining that she puts bingo cards in the building’s elevator for residents to take with them. “It brings us all together to laugh, and to be happy. And it creates an incredible feeling of solidarity.”
According to Pruenza, the game takes place every Monday through Friday at 6:15pm, though music begins playing at 6pm sharp to remind everyone that the game is about to begin. Whoever won the last game gets to choose the next day’s music — their prize for winning, along with bragging rights.
Pruenza shared a video she took of one of the games in action on Twitter, in which you can hear the caller reading out numbers in Spanish. Her translated Twitter caption reads, “I’m not bored with housing development bingo.” She included hashtags “#IStayAtHome” and “#SolidarityInQuarantine.”
“It is so satisfying to see all our neighbors having fun together,” Pruenza told CN Traveler. “These little moments where we are all helping one another is what really makes me happy.”
Health experts all across the world agree that some form of isolation — from the more minor, like social distancing, to the most severe, a federal quarantine — can make a huge difference in reducing the amount of people who are exposed to COVID-19 and help to “flatten the curve.” It can slow the spread of the virus to ease the burden on healthcare workers.
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In Spain, 56,197 cases of COVID-19 have been reported, along with 4,145 deaths as of Thursday afternoon.
Looking for more heartwarming stories to come out of the crisis? Check out our feature on inspiring ways celebrities and regular people are coming together, from fostering pets in need to leaving supersize tips.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.