The minister of health, Salvador Illa, on the right.

03-04-2020JuanJo Martín

The worst-kept de-escalation plan secret was no longer a secret - from Monday, Majorca would be at Phase 2. The health minister provided this joyous news on Friday, and as a consequence it appeared as if everyone would be exiting lockdown in order to leg it to the nearest beach. It will be like Brighton on a warm Bank Holiday, especially a Bank Holiday under lockdown.

Majorca is admittedly different to Formentera, where they put out the Phase 2 bunting a week earlier and hardly anyone went to the beach. There again, as it is different, you can pretty much get a beach to yourself in Formentera. Social distancing? Most certainly.

It was useful that the minister should have reminded us which phase we were in or were about to be in. Phase regulations do seem to have been somewhat flexible, the beaches having been among this flexibility. The empty beaches of Formentera last Monday may have had something to do with the fact that no one had realised you could actually go to a beach, lie on it, sunbathe and have a paddle. The beach phase had been switched from 3 to 2 only the day before Formentera Phase 2 began.


Time for masks
Otherwise, the minister managed to slip in the business about the wearing of masks. Where was this listed under the different phases? It wasn't, just as quarantine for foreign travellers hadn't been, but the minister had decided that now was the time - just prior to Phase 2 (except for those who will only be graduating to Phase 1) - for masks to be obligatory. Except, of course, they weren't in all circumstances, so we all struggled to figure out the circumstances that might not lead to getting fined.


The tourism start
While some tourism industry representatives were wanting clarity from the Spanish government as to when the tourism season will start, there were others in the industry as well as regional administrations and indeed foreign governments who had already made the decision for Madrid.

Hotels were gearing up to open and receive foreign tourists in July, according to the president of the Association of Hotel Chains. The German government announced that its citizens can travel abroad from mid-June, an unnamed German airline was interested in flying to Minorca at that time, while despite residents objecting to being treated as "guinea pigs", Playa de Palma was preparing for its first safe corridor tourist influx some time in June. President Armengol suggested that tourism will start gradually from the middle of June with national tourists and the German test tourists. The government was holding direct talks with German states about the safe corridors.

Finally, Pedro Sánchez offered a future warm welcome (future as in July) to foreign tourists - "Spain awaits you".


More state of alarm
There was, however, the persisting obstacle of the state of alarm, with its added complications of quarantine and now the wearing of masks. The Spanish government was at least conceding that foreign tourism and quarantine weren't exactly compatible. There again, the intention is to do away with the quarantine when the state of alarm is lifted (and to cease making masks obligatory).

It seemed as if it was possible that the state of alarm might be lifted earlier than the end of Phase 3 in areas of the country with the right "epidemiological" data, with Majorca being one of these areas and so potentially looking forward to a "new normal" slightly earlier than 22 June and being able to welcome foreign tourists.

This may still be the case, and who can really say where the state of alarm is now going. Pedro Sánchez probably can't, even if he intimated that he'll be looking for yet another extension beyond 7 June. He had to back down on a 35-day extension and only managed a 15-day extension by making all manner of promises to various political parties.

Extension Round Six awaits, and it could get even more politically messy.

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