President Francina Armengol, speaking on Saturday. | Govern Illes Balears


Speaking about coronavirus on Saturday, President Armengol said that "we have to be aware that we have not yet reached the worst stage of its expansion in the Balearics". "It is necessary, at all costs, to prevent the increase of the contagion. We must focus on ensuring treatment for people who are infected and, lastly, on the economic consequences. I am convinced that after this crisis some things are going to be different. Certain beliefs will change, and positively. In order to face up to recession, there is no room for certain cuts to public services."

Reflecting on the decision to close ports and airports, the president thanked the Madrid government for its willingness to coordinate the closure, but she added that "it is difficult to understand problems" in parts of Spain that are on the periphery. "It wasn't easy to get agreements with the airlines, but closing the islands was being demanded by the public. Sometimes, being islands has its advantages."

On provision by the health service, Armengol explained that contingency measures were put in place from the outset. There are currently 140 ICU beds, a number which can be doubled through resources in both the public and private sector. She highlighted the collaboration of the private health care sector, adding that it was hoped that the peak in the number of contagions will be at the end of the coming week. "I believe that we are ready."

The president said that experience in other countries has been taken into account in order to address "possible errors". The incidence of Covid-19 in the Balearics is just one per cent of the national total. She understood that there are complaints about the lack of equipment in the health service. "We are aware of this, but also of the fact that material must be used appropriately. We are asking the health ministry (in Madrid) to send us all that is necessary, but I cannot say when this will be sorted out."

"I cannot rule out that there will be dysfunction. We are in a totally unforeseen situation. It is a horror movie. We are applying health criteria and will continue to request more supplies. But we should be clear that if something is lacking or is delayed, this is not a fault of the national government. There is a worldwide problem; we shouldn't forget this."

With regard to the economy and employment, Armengol stressed that the focus is on helping those most affected - businesses and employees. She accepted that budgets will have to be redrafted, adding that the situation is only temporary. "This gives us hope that we can get out of this crisis as soon as possible." Prime Minister Sánchez, she noted, has said that everything necessary will be done and that he has the support of all political parties. She emphasised the fact that there are agreements to ensure that employees with 'fijo discontinuo' contracts will receive benefits under ERTE (temporary layoff) procedures. "This is great news for thousands of workers."

On tourism, she expressed her belief that there will be a season this year. "We have time. Employers and unions are doing a magnificent job and together we are looking at ways to protect the season."