Albufera fire, Mallorca

Aftermath of the fire in Albufera.

27-09-2020Laura Becerra

Extraordinary seriousness and chaos in Madrid

Madrid was the main focus of attention last week because of a barney between the Spanish government and the regional government over new restrictions as a consequence of you know what. There was a situation of "extraordinary seriousness" in Madrid, stated the prime minister. The president of the region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, wished to thank Pedro Sánchez for the "chaos".

It didn't escape anyone's attention that Ayuso is from the PP and that Sánchez isn't. It certainly didn't escape Isabel's attention. Ideology was behind the health minister wading in and slapping a mobility restrictions order on Madrid, she maintained. Not wishing to appear to be discriminatory, Salvador Illa applied the order to all municipalities with 100,000 inhabitants and where there are more than 500 Covid cases over a fourteen-day period. Everyone was therefore curious to find out if there was a municipality with 99,999 inhabitants where there are 499 cases. There didn't appear to be.

Ibiza partial lockdown

For the whole of the Balearics, with one obvious exception, the Illa order was of no consequence, albeit that the municipality of Ibiza (almost 49,999 inhabitants) discovered that it was being placed in a form of lockdown by the Balearic health minister. While the health ministry's website (as of Friday), reported that the municipality had 246 active cases, the number of positives per 100,000 over fourteen days has been up as high as 774.

Palma can, for now, breathe easily through its collective mask. And there were encouraging signs of a curve being bent, with the positive test rate regularly below five per cent for the islands as a whole.

Unemployment rises

While we wait with bated breath each day for the latest coronavirus figures' bulletin from the health ministry, there are of course other statistics to captivate us. To no one's great surprise, we learned that foreign tourism in the Balearics in August had plummeted 80%. The latest unemployment figures were likewise to have been expected, and the minister for the economic model, tourism and employment said as much.

Iago Negueruela, speaking to IB3 on Friday, looked remarkably chipper in the photo that the broadcaster posted on its Twitter account, especially as the Balearics was one of only four regions where unemployment went up in September. Still, there had been the breakthrough in the ERTE negotiations earlier in the week, while there was also the announcement of a special deal for employees with 'fijo discontinuo' contracts - up to the end of January anyway.

The disappearing jellyfish

We didn't get any actual numbers from the regional directorate for fisheries and the marine environment other than an observation that there have been "fewer" jellyfish this year. There is a counting system but it's one that somehow relies on, for example, lifeguards. How do lifeguards count jellyfish? There is to be a new mathematical model to make the counting more precise.

Might the fewer jellyfish have something to do with there having been fewer tourists? Or does the smell of several tonnes of coconut suntan lotion being washed into the Med not have anything to do with attracting jellyfish? Almost certainly not, but as suggestions go, it was as good as the director-general's explanation for the fewer jellyfish. "We don't know why."

After the fire

The director-general did enlighten us by pointing out that "meteorological phenomena" play a part, and there were more of these as Storm Alex made its presence known on Friday, a week after the fierce winds that had helped to whip up the fire in Albufera.

In the aftermath of the fire, the worst in Majorca since the Tramuntana fire of summer 2013, it was being reckoned that it could take up to three years for there to be full regeneration. The Albufera Facebook posted an endearing photo of a wheatear bird among the burned reed: proof that there was "life after the flames".

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