A suspension of construction work was finally announced.

29-03-2020

Was the contagion peaking?
As the number of coronavirus cases continued to rise, there was some optimism that the peak of contagion was close. This was the view of both the national health minister, Salvador Illa, and the director of the Centre for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simón. But it was recognised that the situation will differ by region.

In the Balearics, although it might not have seemed so, the increase in the number of cases, according to the spokesperson for the committee for management of infectious diseases, Dr. Javier Arranz, had slowed down. This was an observation he made on Friday, when he also pointed out that the number of people with coronavirus (or who have had it) was at least five times higher than the official figure of diagnosed cases.

The number he gave was 3,000 higher than the official figure. We had to conclude that these are therefore people who have had only mild symptoms, but the discrepancy highlighted the need for antibody testing that can establish whether people have been infected at some point.


Easter in confinement
Today should have been when the state of emergency measures were lifted. Few of us can ever have thought that this would be the case. Congress gave its overwhelming support to the government's decision to extend the measures until Easter Sunday - a fortnight away. Easter tourism had already been wiped out, but if any confirmation had been needed that it would be, Congress issued it.


Layoffs, aid and waiting for the season
As companies across the Balearics applied ERTE temporary layoff regulations, there was some further discrepancy - this time to do with the number of employees being laid off. The gap was wide: 400,000 at the top end; 200,000 a more conservative estimate.

Demands were flying in for government and municipal measures to help individuals and businesses. The tourism, retail and hospitality sectors combined in calling for a suspension of tax payments. They also wanted the tourist tax to be dropped for this year.

Calvia was one town hall that acted unilaterally in announcing that there won't be a terrace tax this year. Bars and restaurants which have already paid it will get refunds. Helpful though this decision was, there were of course plenty of doubts as to when the tourism season might get under way and what sort of a season it could be.

Certain tour operators, we learned, were ready to go on the first of May and start flying to Majorca again. That seemed particularly optimistic. Tui weren't giving a date, but CEO Fritz Joussen said that there would be an immediate resumption - as and when.


Construction and rents
The Balearic government was calling for construction work to be halted and for there to be a moratorium on the payment of rents for residential accommodation. The regional government doesn't have the powers to suspend construction. This is something for Madrid, and the minister for the urban agenda, José Luis Ábalos, said that there wouldn't be a suspension, only for Prime Minister Sánchez to announce that there would be - up to and including Holy Thursday.

As for the rent moratorium, the Balearic government would probably have known that this is something that the Spanish government has in mind. An announcement is expected this week.


Snow in spring
Whatever else happens, there is always the weather. February in Majorca had never been so warm, and the whole winter was exceptionally mild. But with the arrival of spring there came the first snow of 2020. On Thursday, the met agency Aemet posted a photo of snow on the peaks.

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