A waitress checks a coustomers covid passport. | M.À. CAÑELLAS

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The PIMEM association which represents small and medium-sized businesses in Mallorca reported last week that due to the new wave of Covid and the introduction of Covid passports for restaurants and cafés of 50 seats or more, takings were down by 40 per cent and Christmas bookings by 50 per cent. The president, Eugènia Cusi, and vice-president, Helmut Clemens, questioned the legitimacy of the passports, a potential infringement on personal rights to health privacy. They took the regional government to task about why hospitality was being stigmatized when there was no evidence to suggest that the industry was the focus of Covid transmission.

Furthermore, they questioned why few local press offered balanced debate or views on the matter. Lazy journalism? One just has to look at the British media’s reporting of Covid matters to see how sheep-like the press has become. But for a few brave and intelligent scribes, most follow the government line and report what its press office doles out. This is a dangerous premise and has an Orwellian whiff about it.

Recently, I’ve made a point of asking local restaurateurs for their views on Covid passports and haven’t found one pro the scheme. Meanwhile, the majority of locals I have consulted are avoiding eateries that require Covid passports, particularly the elderly, and these are people who have been vaccinated. Most of the un-vaccinated remain doggedly opposed to having the vaccine, so it makes little difference to them. They will simply vote with their feet or stay home.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the hospitality industry is seething with rage at the alarmist propaganda being touted by its government that has all but destroyed Christmas trade. It is demanding compensation and further reduction in business rates and tax. Next, it will no doubt be demanding the return of the furlough scheme but where is this all heading? How is the vast and ever-growing hole in the UK’s coffers going to be filled? Can we go on interminably living life behind closed doors every time a new Covid variant comes along? When is the tipping point? Or should we journalists just become lemmings, stop asking questions, lap up the government press handouts and propaganda and put our feet up?

One more strike
Currently, the UK is like a crisis advent calendar that sees a new disaster emerging with each new day in the run up to Christmas. Heaven knows what the final window in the calendar will offer. Certainly not a foil-covered chocolate. Last week in a fiery address, Sir Roger Gale, MP, furiously demanded that Boris Johnson get his act together as the government continued to spiral into chaos. The prime minister has all but lost the confidence of his party and worst still, the electorate. The drubbing his party received at the recent by-election in North Shropshire underlined the urgency for change. Sir Roger opined that Tory MPs were demanding Johnson’s removal, and he offered ominous words for the PM: One more strike and you’re out.

This is surely good news? After months of lies, sleaze and a sinister authoritarian style of government, politicians and the general public are finally beginning to awaken. As the Sage (a contradiction in terms) committee, Professor Neil-Pants-on-Fire-Ferguson, dull Professor Whitty and the usual scientific gloom merchants argued and offered contradictory information, the public reared up in fury and shunned their collective advice. No one believes politicians anymore and this in itself is a problem. If Omicron were to become dangerous - and hopefully it will remain reasonably benign – it’s unlikely that those in the UK under the age of 50 will take any notice now.

For Boris Johnson, the new Omicron variant has been the gift that keeps on giving, arriving just in time to drown out the scandals hammering his shaky reign. But his luck might finally be running out. There are no reported deaths so far in the UK (one was purported to be caused by Omicron and touted by an increasingly desperate government but is still yet to be verified) and few Omicron patients are being hospitalised though infection is high. I now know five people in London with Omicron. They have the same symptoms: runny nose, a few aches and pains and slight headache. Thankfully, it appears to be over in five to seven days. Is it like having a cold, I asked them? Yes, they replied, it was just like having a cold. Well, what do you know? And while we’re at it, whatever DID happen to the common cold or flu? Now that’s one for lazy journalists to think about.

Christmas Tree Cheer
Whatever grim news we have to digest this season, I for one, will try hard to offer a little cheer to my visiting family and those in the close community. Christmas for me is symbolised by a tree and it is the first thing I order for the festive season. This time, I’ve bought one from an enterprising young Dane named Quentin Theander, who last year set up the company, Mallorca Christmas Trees. The trees are sustainably-sourced and brought over in trucks used to transport wine that would otherwise return to Barcelona empty from Denmark. Quentin home delivers and the company still has stock so if you can’t see the wood for the trees, call: 658 34 29 41.

Anna Nicholas’s seventh Mallorca travel title, Peacocks in Paradise, is now available to purchase at all good UK bookshops & via amazon. In Mallorca it’s available at Universal Bookshop, Alameda shop in Soller and the Atelier in Fornalutx and in Palma bookshops.