So, we have arrived at the great day. Phase 3 is at an end. The state of alarm is over. The borders are being opened, and there will be a flood of German tourism industry leaders having their temperatures taken at the airport today before being whisked off to Playa de Palma for an Iberostar-organised gathering of representatives of Majorca's most important tourism market.
And how often we were being reminded of this German hegemony, not least because of the constant drip-drip of ifs, buts and maybes regarding air bridges (some say corridors) with the second most important market.
Prime Minister Sánchez sprang a surprise by announcing that the borders will be opening today but failed to mention anything about the UK, which therefore demanded some clarification be given. It was. The UK was included, but there was a but. The foreign affairs minister, citing possible "reciprocity", told the BBC that a fourteen-day quarantine could await UK travellers making their way to Magalluf or Benidorm, only to then say that they wouldn't have to quarantine. But where were the flights anyway? Were there to be air bridges between the UK and Spain? Who could possibly say, but this naturally enough didn't prevent the speculation as to whether there were and when: American Independence Day, the fourth of July, was suddenly acquiring a very different significance.
Dynamiting the pilot plan
The Sánchez announcement did make the much-celebrated Balearic tourism pilot plan appear rather less purposeful than it was supposed to be. In effect reduced to a week, opposition parties in the Balearics suggested that this was another example of a Madrid lack of appreciation for all that the Balearics contribute to the nation's well-being. The plan had been "dynamited", it was said. President Armengol disagreed. The plan had placed the Balearics "at the centre of the world". As tourism promotional slogans go, this was powerful stuff, or would have been, had it actually been a slogan.
Applauding the test tourists
The test tourists duly arrived, and lamentably there was no grand ceremony at the airport to pipe them in. Instead, it was left to hotel staff to line up on steps at suitable social distance, applaud them and compare face coverings. In Alcudia, added late on to the pilot scheme, a mighty total of twelve tourists turned up on Monday. There would have been more on Tuesday, but there was a cock-up involving the authorisation of flights. This was perhaps understandable. The travel industry is more used to ensuring that Aena lists arrival times and that flight price comparison sites have the information rather than worrying about the Spanish government and its Official Bulletin of State.
Stimulus and ERTE
Sánchez and ministers, lambasted by the tourism industry because of perceived failure to take any notice of the industry, produced the tourism stimulus plan. This was greeted with initial grudging statements of the diplomatic variety before the entire industry launched into the government for dragging its heels over the extension to ERTE. The clock is ticking, as the current arrangements expire at the end of this month. The industry wants an extension to end-December, something that the government appears reluctant to go along with.
The Balearic government, now able to call the new normal shots, looked as if it was condemning the whole of the nightlife sector to painful termination. One report suggested that there would be no reopening until a vaccine is found. As things turned out, establishments will be able to open with maximum capacities of 300 people, with dance floors not to be used and with a closing time of no later than 2am. However, this won't apply to Magalluf or Playa de Palma, where nightlife places of a disco sort will not be allowed to open, although it seems as if terraces can be. The government was thus using the health crisis new normal to reinforce its tourism of excesses decree. Oh, and party boats were banned as well.