In Spanish, Grande-Marlaska used the word ‘olvidar’ (to forget).

In Spanish, Grande-Marlaska used the word ‘olvidar’ (to forget).

19-06-2021E.Q.

A police operation that closed access to the Son Castelló industrial estate last Friday. “Hello. Good evening. Alcohol cannot enter here.” Just one notice over the weekend about the attempts to get to grips with the “botellón”, which invariably appears to be a “macrobotellón”. At which point does a botellón become a macrobotellón? What is the numerical qualification? No matter, macro it usually is.

Of whatever size, these outdoor gatherings, typically at night, are being targeted as public health enemy number one. Such is the targeting, such is the concern that the botellón is a matter for a national minister. Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Spain’s interior minister, has called on the young people of Spain not to be “reckless” in their behaviour at a time when “we are on the point of forgetting the pandemic”.

In Spanish, Grande-Marlaska used the word ‘olvidar’ (to forget). It was an unfortunate word to have used. He meant one thing, but it could be interpreted differently. You can’t just forget about Covid. He then went on to call for young people to demonstrate responsibility, especially at night, in order to contain the expansion of the coronavirus pandemic. Not gone; not forgotten.

Responsibility. Political leaders from various regions have been calling for the same. Responsibility is a word favoured by Balearic political leaders - Armengol, Gómez, Negueruela; responsibility is demanded time and time again in a variety of contexts. For month upon month, responsibility was shown. There were some exceptions, but the public - of all ages - assumed responsibility. In the space of a few short weeks, this collective responsibility has been shattered.

The weekend’s news reports of police operations follow what has been more or less a month’s worth of botellón, macro in particular. Reclaim the streets, reclaim the bottle, forget the pandemic.

The president of Galicia, Alberto Nuñez Feijóo, has said that the botellón is a sure way to spread contagion. Get away. Tell us something we didn’t already know. A statement of the obvious, it is as obvious and as empty as the appeals for responsibility. Once the curfew cat was out of the bag, once the courts said no to limits on social gatherings, we all knew what would happen. And it has.

The president of Andalusia, Juanma Moreno, has lamely sought to remind the young that they are not immortal. “They can sadly die as the rest can die.” Indeed, but not in anything like the same number. For the young, there are innumerable role models (if you want to describe them thus) who have shown that Covid is little more than a passing inconvenience - footballers, for example.

Control of the botellón is fundamental to containing Covid. This is an official line. Official, and yet what is officialdom doing? What can it do? It floods the Son Castelló estate with police. It sets up checks here and there. Yet the botellón is likely to take place anyway - venues are not in short supply, and the means of communicating their existence are simple.

Feijóo has added that he is “convinced” that nightlife venues are much safer than the street gatherings. He’s almost certainly correct. In which case, why has the Balearic government stalled on its latest relaxation? It’s because contagion has run riot among the principal target market for nightlife.

Establishments might now be preparing for greater relaxation, had the curfew and the limits on social gathering remained in place longer. But there again, would these restrictions only have served to delay the inevitable?

I accept the nightlife argument, but I’m unconvinced that opening clubs would have made or will make a massive difference. Some, yes, but only some. The politicians like Armengol and Negueruela recognise that there was the botellón before Covid. That is why, for all the use they’ve been, bans were put in place.

There is, I’m afraid, a lack of logic with saying that an open nightlife would curb contagion. Within the confines of establishments with the right measures, quite probably it would. But the fact that there was the botellón pre-Covid negates the argument. They have taken place over the years regardless of clubs being open.

Moreover, there has been the example of the officially sanctioned macrobotellón, which reinforces the role of the botellón in youth culture. In Puerto Alcudia down the years, the end of the school year has been an occasion for the young (as young as fourteen) to experiment with the botellón; thousands from across the whole island on a night in June.

Information campaigns to impress on the young that the pandemic isn’t over (hasn’t been forgotten). This is one solution proposed for an age group that is especially susceptible to the propaganda and conspiracies of Covid deniers.

But hasn’t there been information enough? Fernando Grande-Marlaska is the interior minister. He needs to find better solutions than information and appeals for responsibility.

Comments

To be able to write a comment, you have to be registered and be logged in.

* Mandatory fields

Currently there are no comments.