The new regulations for bar and restaurant terraces came into force in Palma on Thursday, forcing owners to get rid of all enclosures and remove any umbrellas, glass screens and planters from public thoroughfares overnight.
127 of the bars and restaurants in Palma have terrace enclosures and virtually every one of them has complained that the new regulations will destroy trade and obliterate profits.
But the Councillor for Citizen Participation & Interior Government at Palma City Council, Alberto Jarabo, says it won’t make a jot of difference.
“We warned the shops, one by one, of the new regulations and the vast majority of restaurateurs have already normalised their situation,” he said, adding, ”and those who have not done so yet because of various problems will do so soon. I don't think the measure of removing the closures will have any influence on the clientele or the economic benefit of the premises.”
The penalty for not complying with the terrace ordinance is 750 euros for slight infractions, between 751 and 1,500 euros for serious ones and up to 3,000 euros for very serious infractions and repeat offenders.
The Director General of the Interior Government of Cort, Marcos Cañabate says there will be some degree of tolerance during the transition phase and that "Palma City Council is in no rush to collect.”
The President of the Federation of Associations of Neighbours of Palma, Joan Forteza, who’s committed to monitoring terraces that don’t comply, claims the new regulations "open a new door to coexistence in Palma and that pedestrians will now be able to see the sky.”
Marisa Bonache from the Son Rapinya Neighbourhood Association was "very happy" with the new ordinance and is confident that pedestrians “can coexist" with clients on the terraces and share spaces that also "belong to the neighbourhood.”
Business owners are furious about the changes that are being foisted upon them and some have spent a fortune on getting their terrace enclosures just right, so that customers are warm in winter and kept cool in summer.
The President of the Santa Catalina Restoration & Leisure Association, Tomeu Mas, claims Palma City Council is not interested in what business owners in the area have to say and that the new restrictions have been introduced without consulting them.
“They only listened to the Federation of neighbours, which has led to the elimination of the micro-occupations approved as a result of the Anti-Tobacco Law, an increase in measures to respect the right of way of pedestrians and now the ban on enclosures.” he said.
Tomeu also points out that forcing bars and restaurants to remove umbrellas, furniture, glass screens and planters from terraces every night is a pain in the neck.
"It is a disadvantage for large businesses, not only because of the hassle of moving everything in and out, but also because it adds to the workload for the staff," he said.
The Santa Catalina Association, which belongs to the CAEB, claims that the new municipal ordinance will seriously affect the revenue of small businesses.
Tomeu Mas is urging Palma City Council to "listen to the people who are working in the restaurant industry, not just the neighbours,” adding, “this will have a negative effect because people don’t want to sit on a terrace without protection from the cold, the sun and the wind" and it will result in economic difficulties and a slump in profits.