Dr. Javier Arranz has been doing his utmost in attempting to keep us all feeling chipper with his daily state of coronavirus addresses, and Thursday was no different. In fact, it sounded as if we could crack open the cava. Some time this coming week, the good doctor suggested, the Balearics will have reached a situation of "zero transmission" of coronavirus. This was the sort of thing we wanted to hear. Can we all go out now, please?
Well no, because zero transmission didn't actually mean zero transmission. Or at least it didn't appear to. Confused? We most certainly were. Zero transmission but not zero infections, as in new ones. What he seemed to be saying was that new infections will mostly all be confined to hospitals and care homes. And in this regard he was reinforcing what had been noted a couple of days previously, which was that 90% of active cases related to health workers, social care workers or residents of care homes.
Extraordinarily safe for tourism
Zero or not, the news was - in terms of general health - pretty positive, which wasn't the case in general. Prime Minister Sánchez was softening us up for a further extension to the lockdown (now confirmed), while tourism - we learned - would not be resuming until it would be "extraordinarily safe" to permit this. What did extraordinarily safe mean exactly?
The Spanish government spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, who uttered these words, didn't define extraordinary safety. As finance minister, she's more used to dealing with hard facts like the percentage to which the economy's going belly-up (and there was no shortage of such percentages last week). Extraordinary safety clearly couldn't be expressed in numerical terms, so we needed to draw on the words of Balearic tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, to offer us a clue. There will be a "very moderate start to the tourism season in August", he informed us cheerily. Very moderate? Erm, no; that wasn't very clear either.
And the truth was that Negueruela couldn't offer any greater clarity, especially as his boss - Francina Armengol - had let it be known, not once but twice, that ports and airports in the Balearics should be "the last things" to reopen once restrictions on mobility are lifted.
The no kidding stories
The honours for last week's 'no kidding' reports went to: the National Statistics Institute for having discovered that business confidence was at an all-time low; the University of the Balearic Islands for having pointed out that journeys by private vehicle and public transport in Majorca had gone down by as much as 80%; and to the organisers of the Palma Boat Show for having come to the conclusion that it should be cancelled.
Back to school?
School has of course been continuing, just not in schools themselves; school work is being done remotely. Would classes resume before the end of term in June? National minister for education Isabel Celaá appeared reluctant to commit to this, and so was reproached by the PP for not having a schedule for schools reopening.
The chances are that they won't, except perhaps for some days towards the end of term when teachers and pupils can meet - at a safe distance no doubt. Different regions had different ideas. The Balearics minister, Martí March, wasn't ruling out there being a reopening, while he was expressing his support for the decision to, in effect, pass all pupils this year; repeating a year would only be an "exceptional measure".
There will be a need, however, for classwork for some pupils who have slipped back, and this will be in July. The teaching unions were getting somewhat agitated by that idea.