A V shape, a U shape, an L shape, a Nike logo shape. Covid recession and recovery come in an abundance of shapes, and last week there was another one - the shape of a pear. For British tourists yearning for Soller oranges, there was the realisation that they might instead have to spend their holidays walking along the lanes of pear-growing shires of southern England. The British government had spoken, and tourism in Majorca, hardly bearing its normal summer fruits, went pear-shaped.
A political manoeuvre, a desire to promote staycations, a sudden urge to be seen to be on top of the health crisis, a blatant disregard of the epidemiological data. Choose your interpretation. A quarantine requirement, which made no sense as the Balearics and the Canaries were not on the FCO's advice against non-essential travel, made sense when the Balearics and the Canaries were subsequently added. But it still made no sense in terms of the infection data.
Comparative data and safe corridors
How often were to hear the comparative data for the Balearics, the UK and the whole of Spain, with the data for the latter coming with the rider that the infections were largely confined to certain regions, which didn't include the Balearics or the Canaries or indeed parts of the mainland with comparatively low rates? How often was there talk of the Spanish and Balearic governments working to establish safe corridors with the UK? There had been such talk between the FCO's first announcement and its Monday update. Another hypothesis was that the UK had taken umbrage at an apparent presumption on behalf of Spain that it (the UK government) would willingly concede and grant a Balearics air corridor.
Lack of diplomacy
There had been a lack of "high-level diplomatic proactivity," reckoned the CEO of Meliá, Gabriel Escarrer. However, in diplomatic circles (those of the UK), it surely hadn't gone unnoticed that the Balearic government had considered asking Madrid for the quarantine of people arriving in the Balearics from Catalonia and Aragon. Moreover, it didn't require being a diplomat to appreciate that there were all those flights arriving in the Balearics from Catalonia without the same controls as for international flights; it was a fact that was staring everyone in the face.
A snowball effect
Escarrer believed that there would not be a "snowball effect" where other countries were concerned. Making an implicit political observation of his own, he suggested that other countries would show solidarity. Maybe so, but the effect appeared to be felt anyway. German holidaymakers were thinking twice. Were the Balearics safe? Of course they were - as safe as anywhere can possibly be - but doubts had been sown by the UK government.
President Armengol made a plea in an open letter. She highlighted the historical ties between the Balearics and the UK. She even offered a few words of Menorquí that have been adapted from English. Alluding to Vera Lynn (probably not knowingly) in making an assurance that "we will meet again soon", she nevertheless reiterated the fact that work was ongoing in getting the UK to agree to safe corridors.
Armengol would not have said so, but she might have felt inclined to. It had been an almighty kick in the teeth.
Fernando Simón's thanks
Reeling from the UK decision, the tourism industry needed statements from Fernando Simón like a hole in the head. The director of the Centre for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies thanked the UK and Belgian governments for both having discouraged their citizens from travelling to Spain. This would help prevent the import of cases.
Simón was condemned by the industry. His resignation was demanded. Prime Minister Sánchez stuck up for Simón by saying he was "deeply proud" of him. Simón was to apologise for any offence caused to the industry.
For those tourists who were in Majorca and for residents, there was the first heat wave of the summer. At Palma's Son Sant Joan Airport on Tuesday, there was a high of 40.6C. Summer was most certainly here - for those being allowed to enjoy it.
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