Travel plans were being thrown into disarray.

26-07-2020Efe

While the Irish government was preventing a thickening of the summer's thin tourism gruel in Santa Ponsa by excluding Spain from its no-quarantine green list, the Balearic government was apparently intent on switching on the red light and applying its own quarantine. This wasn't by way of retaliation (Ireland hadn't published its list at this point) but as a means of deterring passengers from "high risk areas". This was really directed at parts of Spain, such as Catalonia, but the government clearly felt that it would be discriminatory if it didn't also include foreign risk areas for a spot of quarantine treatment on arrival.

No sooner had the government made clear that it would be requesting Madrid to allow it to impose a quarantine than it decided that it wouldn't even be bothering to ask Madrid. We were told that "urgent" meetings were being held because of the rise in infections in certain regions, and so it was urgently appreciated that Madrid would turn round and say no. There was some Balearic government egg on face, given how rapidly the government had changed its mind (the space of a couple of hours, or so it seemed).

There was, however, and with all due respect to Irish tourism, a somewhat greater blow for Santa Ponsa and indeed the whole of the Balearics. Media cliche demands that "bombshell" is used to describe the UK government's quarantine requirement for people travelling from Spain, and a bomb most certainly was dropped on the islands' tourism, on those British tourists already in Majorca and on those who had planned to travel.

It was hard to fathom out why the UK government had adopted a blanket approach for the whole of Spain, especially as the Balearics and the Canaries were excluded from the advice against non-essential travel. The concept of air corridors, which had originally contemplated there being regional connectivity, was kicked into the long grass. Responding to the UK announcement, the Balearic government argued that there should be a UK air corridor with the islands. But the damage was already done. Even were there to be an air corridor for the Balearics, travellers will surely think twice, given how sudden the changes in policy can be.

Controlling Spanish passengers

The UK government had perhaps been taking note of the fact that there was concern in the Balearics about travellers from regions of Spain. The regional government's fallback position (once quarantine was ruled out) was to ask for health controls of passengers from these Spanish regions. With this one, the request was formally made, but Madrid still said no. It all seemed a bit odd that the Spanish government was turning down the possibility of temperature controls of its nationals. Having invested a no doubt princely sum in contracting a Spanish company to implement high-tech systems at Palma and the twelve other Spanish airports with the highest volumes of passenger traffic, one might have thought that Madrid would have been looking to optimise the return on its investment.

The day of the mask fines

On Monday, non-mask-wearers were keeping a beady eye out for law enforcement officers about to pounce on them (at a distance of a metre and a half), while mask-compliers were walking into lampposts because their sunglasses had steamed up. With fines now on the cards, it was reminiscent of how it had been during lockdown, when not a single day passed without an official tally of misdemeanours being published. Fifty-one people were reported between 8am on Monday and 8am on Tuesday for mask breaches. We can no doubt expect similar information being made available over the coming weeks.

President Armengol, we learned, had been among those who had wondered about the need for masks. "In this heat?" she had apparently queried when obligatory mask-wearing was first being proposed. The implications of masks for tourism were, it has to be said, somewhat overshadowed by the quarantine development on Saturday.

Corruption hasn't gone away

Corruption cases in the Balearics haven't gone away, but by and large they are old ones that are still meandering through the justice system. It's six years since the arrest of the former chief of police in Calvia, José Antonio Navarro, and accusations of corruption in the Calvia force, which were to play a not insignificant role in what was to become the Cursach affair. Six years ago, and there was some neat symmetry in that the prosecution service was calling for a six-year sentence for Navarro.

Old cases they mostly may be, but this doesn't prevent there being new ones. The president of the Balearic Ports Authority, Joan Gual de Torrella, and other directors were arrested in connection with alleged irregularities with contracts at ports in the Balearics.

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