The beaches (Playa de Palma here) were busier on Saturday.

30-05-2020Pilar Pellicer

Phase 2 began and everyone was heading for the beach, the health ministry having deemed that it was safe to lounge around on beaches (minus sunloungers as there weren't any) two weeks earlier than the ministry had previously decided. But not everyone did go to the beach. Monday wasn't particularly glorious, while despite all the apparent euphoria about renewed beach freedom, it was being overlooked that island residents by and large wait until June and that in any event tend to head off to the beach en masse only on a Sunday. With no tourists around, social distancing wasn't much of an issue.

June to be bustin' out all over
Instead, therefore, we were all looking forward to June bustin' out all over, whenever in June this might be. Or July. It was all getting terribly confusing. The Balearic government was seeking to hasten the phase process and so the start of the new normality by requesting a Phase 3 kickoff for all the islands tomorrow. No chance, replied the health ministry. Or words to that effect. Phases last a fortnight, and Majorca had only just entered its second.

It was understandable that President Armengol might have taken a hint that she could speed the phases up, given that Pedro Sánchez had suggested that the state of alarm could be lifted in certain regions "in the coming days". That was last Sunday. Then on Monday, it was announced that the quarantine of foreign travellers will end on the first of July, which just so happened to have been the same date that Sánchez had given for foreign tourism to commence.

The testing of the three thousand
Yes, yes, but what about June? Had the prime minister forgotten about the German test tourists who were going to be coming to Majorca? Up to three thousand of them were being lined up to check on all the protocols being put in place and thus give Majorca a competitive head start over competitor destinations, except of course destinations such as Greece which will be open to foreign tourists from mid-June. The foreign affairs minister indicated that Spanish borders may indeed open earlier in some regions, so it seemed as if June hadn't been forgotten.

Meanwhile, hotel companies, four of them, were preparing to welcome the 3,000 before then turning round and putting a mighty great spanner in the works. An ERTE spanner. If hotels open before July 1, then the social security bonuses will disappear. Opening will therefore not be viable, unless the Spanish government comes to the rescue and adds some more flexibility to ERTE. A further spanner in the works was being applied by the health ministry - yes, them again - who didn't seem that keen on these tourist tests.

No island is an island
Still beating the drum for June, the Balearic government was again asking for unrestricted inter-island travel to start before the "new normality" (June 22, if all goes to epidemiological data plan). The government had been very insistent that when all the confinement rules came in back in March, the islands should be treated as separate units. The Spanish government agreed, but now President Armengol was wanting the islands to be classified as a province, which would allow inter-island travel. The health ministry, keen to exert its phases authority, will no doubt insist that an island is an island - for the purposes of mobility - until it decides otherwise, as in at the end of Phase 3.

The economy's green shoots
There was positive news about the economy. Or rather, there had been a very small positive impact because of the lifting of some restrictions in Phases 0 and 1. Over the first three weeks of May, the Fundació Impulsa for Balearic competitiveness informed us, economic loss slowed by 150 million euros. Green shoots of recovery among the 1,998 million euros worth of destruction since mid-March. The weekly generation of economic wealth was only 36% lower than it should be in May; in April this had been 38% lower.


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