There was a horrible feeling last week that things were getting out of control. The health crisis has never gone away, but it was making itself felt more seriously than for many a week (month even). In the Balearics, the number of active cases was back on a par with what they had been when the crisis had apparently been at its worst. Daily figures for new cases were records since the pandemic began.
But we were being assured that the situation was different. Hardly anyone was being admitted to hospital. The majority of cases were asymptomatic. The average age was much lower. There were two fatalities - care home residents, but no others. And one of these fatalities, it appeared, hadn't in fact been coronavirus-related. The death toll in the Balearics went down to 231, having gone up to 232 a couple of days previously.
The German threshold
The German threshold of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a seven-day period was exceeded. We had known for many weeks that this was a level at which the German government could act and issue advice against travel. The German reaction should therefore have come as absolutely no surprise, while it was also contending with its own increase in infections. The lesson of Covid-related tourism 2020 was being repeated. There is constant uncertainty; there is the constant threat of sudden decisions being made.
The health minister's announcement
The Spanish government was making its decisions, but it couldn't make them alone. Once the state of alarm was over, centralised decision-making and control ended. Responsibilities were returned to the regions. So in order for there to be a coordinated approach to the rise in the number of infections, the national ministry of health had to get the regions onside; the ministry could not act unilaterally.
The minister, Salvador Illa, announced that there was consensus for the decision to close nightlife establishments, one that had in fact been pre-empted in Catalonia, while in the Balearics there was a capacity limit of 300 (for those establishments not affected by the closure decree).
The nightlife sector responded by saying that it would take the Spanish government to court. Even before Friday's ministerial announcement, the sector was warning that 80% of businesses could be declared bankrupt if urgent aid from the European fund wasn't received before November.
Smoking at a safe distance
Smoking restrictions were being introduced by regional governments. The Balearic government was planning its own, but the health minister also announced that there would be a nationwide restriction - a ban on smoking on the streets and in open-air places where the safe distance of 1.5 metres couldn't be observed. Does smoke blown by a smoker which might contain droplets travel no further?
Health centre "chaos"
While the new measures were being announced and the infections were going up, it seemed as if there was something of a crisis in the health service. Unions were complaining of "chaos" in health centres, of work overload and burnout. Certain health centres, e.g. Santa Margalida's, hadn't reopened since being closed at the end of March because personnel had to be transferred to hospitals. This just added to a sense of things getting out of control.
With businesses anxious about bankruptcy, with demands being made for the ERTE furlough scheme to be extended until Easter next year, there still appears to be room for those with fortunes. We learned that three of the five most expensive properties in Spain (all over 20 million) were in Majorca, while the Sareb "bad bank" announced that it had sold a hotel in Cala Mendia for three million euros. The purchaser was a company called Sineu Inversiones, the administrator of which - it would appear - is a former Partido Popular mayor of Palma, Mateu Isern.