Hope springs eternal
Spain's tourism minister, Reyes Maroto, continued to fly the flag for the Balearics and the Canaries and for there being flights with the UK that wouldn't result in quarantine. The minister was hopeful of a UK quarantine rethink and of the establishment of safe air corridors. In this regard, Maroto could point to the examples of other countries - Austria and Switzerland put mainland Spain on travel alert but exempted the islands. Belgium, on the other hand, added the Balearics to its quarantine recommendation list.
The rise in cases
Slim though the hope was at the start of the week, the data during the week suggested that the UK would be most unlikely to change its mind. The number of new cases in the Balearics topped one hundred for three 24-hour periods and produced an R number of 1.26. For the whole of Spain the average was 1.12. The health ministry insisted that this was due to the level of testing and tracing, but however the numbers were explained, they were in the mid-30s per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days; 50 per 100,000 inhabitants is a key measure for the German authorities in determining their travel advice.
Examples of "outbreaks"
Each day seemed to be producing examples of so-called outbreaks, even if they were nothing of the sort and very minor, such as one child at a nursery school in Palmanova having tested positive; the school was closed temporarily. At the Es Pinaret youth reform centre in Palma there were six infections - four inmates and two educators. While the centre applies strict controls internally, there was clearly an issue regarding the permissions for the young people to go out; there was no control, and the social affairs minister admitted as much.
Promoting to national tourists
The Council of Majorca, meanwhile, announced a co-marketing with the travel agency, B the Travel Brand. Directed at national tourists and with the message that Majorca is a safe destination, the rise in cases was unfortunate. And how much has the rise been as a consequence of travel from parts of Spain where there have been very much more significant outbreaks than in Majorca? The continuing lack of controls of passengers arriving from the mainland remained a puzzle.
ERTE until Easter
The degree to which tourism was taking a renewed hit was highlighted in figures presented by Palma-based data analysts Dingus. Leading UK tour operators saw their bookings fall by over 70% following the UK's quarantine decision. For Majorca specifically, this fall (which in other words meant cancellations) was 66%.
With tourism taking such a battering and the latest figures for the economy suggesting that there had been a 26.4% fall in GDP in the Balearics in the second quarter, calls were going out about extensions to ERTE. The Spanish government has yet to commit to anything beyond the end of September, but Ciudadanos and the Pimem business association were leading the demands for the furlough scheme (in the Balearics at least) to last until Easter next year. By that time, it is hoped, tourism will be able to recover.
It takes something for the virus to be knocked off the front pages, and something duly happened. "Juan Carlos to leave Spain" was a headline that marked the latest development in the dramatic fall from grace of the former king. "Certain past events" in his private life had led him to make the decision. In response to his letter to King Felipe, the Royal Household stated that the King expressed his "heartfelt respect and gratitude for the decision". The King and his family are now in Majorca. What a background to their holidays.
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