Dr. Javier Arranz, the spokesperson for the Balearics committee for the management of infectious diseases, believes that "normality" can be recovered by the middle of 2021. The "nightmare still has a way to go", but he points to vaccines becoming available and to what he believes will be less intense waves of the virus.
Speaking at the weekend, Arranz said that pandemics tend to evolve in the way that this one is. He is not surprised by the current situation and insists that the state of alarm de-escalation process was carried out "quite well" in the Balearics and other regions. "It had to be done at some point. Life must go on. It also prepared us for what we now have. Mobility is greater in the summer, while we all tend to forget the bad times."
Arranz stressed that closing the islands during the state of alarm "helped us a lot". "Social relationships are the basis of contagion. We should now have greater control over people arriving from regions or countries with higher incidence of the virus than on the islands. So far, we have managed to stop the arrival of cruise ships. But the problem isn't tourists; it lies with countries with high incidence, and these aren't necessarily European. Unfortunately, there hasn't been the scope that we have wanted for this. In order to be able to track and trace, we must know who is coming in. This would have limited the current increase in cases."
On the German government's decision to advise against travel to the Balearics, Arranz suggested that it is "too simplistic" to just consider the number of cases. "World Health Organization criteria apply, but countries use them according to their interests". Spain uses other parameters, "and we are less restrictive". "I can understand the German attitude, but do you trust data from Greece or Turkey?"
Asked if he would advise a friend in Germany to come to the Balearics, Arranz replied that of course he would. But he would ask his friend what he planned to do while in the Balearics. "The problem is not where we go, it is personal behaviour. Cases involving tourists are minimal."
Touching on the behaviour of young people, Arranz said that "if we don't change our attitudes, we will have more cases". Older people, he observed, "have learned the lesson and protect themselves". "The young want to experience the summer without taking precautions.
"We don't have a high degree of immunity, like with the flu. It is difficult for people to accept the new way of behaving, such as with the correct use of masks. We are dealing with a new disease, and there are many things we still don't know. Decisions are made based on the information we have."
Accepting that economic consequences influence decision-making, Arranz added that "returning to total confinement would be very difficult". The idea is to adopt specific or partial actions in order to avoid there being a return to confinement, even if these may have negative economic consequences. "In Palma, where most of the cases are concentrated, we will look to identify the most troubling points."
He believed that the indicators will change by next year and that tourism in the Balearics will recover. First, however, there is the winter, when it will be important to prevent growth in contagion.
Finally, he was asked what he would say to virus deniers. "They should volunteer to go into a Covid intensive care unit without protection. Then we can talk. I'd be willing to discuss their proposals."