Fornalutx was also listed as having no cases of coronavirus infections. | T.Ayuga


It was early May 200 years ago. That's when it broke out. The bubonic plague. If famed is the right word, then Son Servera has the greatest fame. It is Son Servera where there is the statue of the shepherd boy, the one who apparently took the cloak of a plague victim from Tangier who had been buried at Port Vell beach. That's the legend. It was almost certainly not how the plague was spread. A more likely explanation has to do with smugglers and rats on a ship with contraband that had come from Morocco.

It is Son Servera where, on the first of February, they celebrate the feast of Sant Ignasi. This was the day in 1821 when the cordon was lifted; the military cordon that had needed troops brought in from Catalonia to maintain. The cordon had lasted for months. Son Servera's wasn't the only one, even if it is the most famed. There were also cordons around Arta, Capdepera and Sant Llorenç. In Son Servera, 1,040 out of a total population of 1,808 inhabitants of the village died of the plague. As a percentage of population - 57.5% - Son Servera was the worst affected village. Famous for all the wrong reasons.

There were in fact three types of cordon. Those around these four villages were on the front line of the plague. Another was along the whole coast of Majorca. Soldiers watched for boats. They were also there to convey confidence to traders; the cordons were a way of managing to keep trade in and out of Majorca continuing. Then there were the cordons for other villages and for Palma. Armed civilian personnel were under the command of mayors. A form of health pass was needed to gain entrance. If someone didn't have one and especially if they were from the "Llevant" (those four villages in particular), they could be shot on the spot.

The cordons were occasionally broken, therefore. It's said that this was particularly the case among the wealthy residents of Arta. By and large, however, the cordons were effective, and it has been acknowledged that the sacrifices made by the people of those Llevant villages - the people who survived and were behind the cordons for months - spared the rest of Majorca.

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So that was how confinement or quarantine was 200 years ago; a time when villages were cut off because of a public health scare. And the villages are now moving more sharply into focus because of the release of coronavirus data by municipality and also because of the talk of earlier "de-escalation" in places where there are low levels of infection. The data show that there are some municipalities without any positive cases - the official data, that is, the cases where people have been tested and found to be or have been positive.

Almost three weeks ago, the president of the Felib federation of town halls, Toni Salas (the mayor of Costitx), had called for figures of cases by municipality to be published. The government's response was to say no. It didn't wish there to be "stigmatisation". It didn't say that it didn't have the figures, but inferred that it preferred not to make them available. Which now seems rather curious, as the day before the data were made available, the public health department said that it was "processing" them and that they would be published as they would help with managing the de-escalation. It was pretty obvious that processing was unnecessary. The figures were known and had to have been for some time. Why, otherwise, did the government not say at the start of April that they needed to be processed?

FEMP is the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces. Its current president is the mayor of Vigo, Abel Caballero. He responded positively to the statements by Pedro Sánchez which suggested that the lifting of confinement will vary. Where there have been low levels of infection, the lifting could occur earlier. But was Sánchez really entertaining the idea that this variation could be between municipalities? Caballero appeared to believe that he was.

Toni Salas agreed that this was how it appeared. If a municipality has "zero infections", it would be "normal" for there to be a little more relaxation of confinement. I'm not sure that normal is the right word here, given that there are no precedents - in living memory - which determine normality. Still, this was how he put it, although he added a caveat where Majorca is concerned - the close proximity of municipalities, all 53 of them.

It seems impossible to conceive of a situation whereby, for example, Deya (with zero infections) would have different rules to its neighbour Soller (with ten). Restrictions on mobility there may be, but mobility isn't impossible. It would almost have to be like 200 hundred years, but preferably without the threat of being shot in order to safeguard the Deya populace. Different rules for different villages? I can't see it.