Germany calling the shots?
Such are the close ties between Majorca and Germany, it is sometimes said that Majorca is like the seventeenth of the German Länder. There was further evidence to support this idea last week, with Majorca apparently not enjoying the same degree of sovereignty as the other sixteen states. The island appeared to be under the command of the German foreign ministry. Or so the Balearic government desperately had to make clear wasn't the case. Yes, the German government had demanded explanations about what was going on with badly behaved crowds of German nationals on Schinkenstrasse and Bierstrasse, but the Balearic government insisted that it had taken the decision to close streets; the German government had not prompted the decision by threatening to impose restrictions on travel if there could not be guarantees that its citizens would behave themselves and that the Balearic authorities would control them.
Closing the streets
The tourist test plan had become the real thing, and lo and behold there were tourists testing the limits of social distancing and health safety regulations and the government's tourism of excesses decree. The government responded by acting, many felt, in an excessive manner. Five streets were "closed", which subsequently turned out not to be entirely accurate. Having issued an order which did indeed close all bars/restaurants, clubs and shops, the government then clarified that only establishments selling alcohol had to close.
The Abone nightlife businesses association and the Acotur tourist services businesses association reckoned that government decisions were further examples of "improvisation" and threatened to sue the government. It emerged that the short notice of the order to close the first three streets on Wednesday (it was applied with immediate effect) was because there were fears that there would otherwise have been the mother of all parties before the order came into effect.
An extraordinary development
The British government had seemingly not taken the same level of interest as the German government had. Nevertheless, Punta Ballena was an obvious target for the Balearic administration, while the closure order naturally became the subject for wise debate. Whatever one's opinion of the government's order, there was no doubt that it was an extraordinary development.
Masks and their interpretation
But, and as we should all by now realise, these are extraordinary times. Suddenly introduced rules and regulations are a fact of these times, whether we like them or not. Making the wearing of masks mandatory was far from everyone's liking, and understandably so. However, if this is the rule, then it is the rule. The Balearic government was criticised because mask-wearing provoked cancellations. The government was ruining what could be salvaged from an already ruined season. Claims of ruination failed, however, to take into account that it had been the Balearic government which had led the way in reactivating the tourism season by having pressed for air corridors and the tourist test plan. People have short memories.
From Monday, when the fines can start to be handed out, we will begin to learn what the mask-wearing order really means in practice. A problem with it is interpretation. What, for example, constitutes a "paseo marítimo", where there can be social distancing and where there cannot be? A walk along a paseo marítimo can be maskless, but it depends. The timing of removing masks at bars and restaurants (and putting them back on again) is another doubt.