With twenty days now remaining of the official summer tourism season, some green shoots of recovery poked up above the straw being clutched at. Tui announced that they will be restarting flights from Germany to Majorca this coming week. These won't actually be Tui flights, as in TuiFly, but flights they will be, and these will be bringing late-season German package holidaymakers to the island. All was not lost, after all. Or not for a Riu hotel in Playa de Palma and the Club Robinson in Cala Serena at any rate.
More than a small beer
Small beer this may have been, but the news might - if only slightly - have lifted the spirits of a regional tourism industry preparing for a winter of ERTE-mitigating discontent with not even some Spanish pensioners to offer hotel occupancy relief.
In Playa de Palma, meanwhile, bars might have been anticipating there being rather more than a small beer. To coincide with the arrival of the late-season German tourist cavalry, Beer Street bars will be able to reopen, having been shut since July. The Balearic government was presumably reckoning that these tourists will not be committing any excesses along Bierstrasse, otherwise known as Calle Miquel Pellisa, although bar owners will be trusting that they want a "Mass" (and several of them) as opposed to one small beer.
Sadly for Punta Ballena bars in Magalluf, also given permission to reopen, Tui had no plans for flights from the UK. But the Balearic government was insisting that UK safe corridors were "imminent", while transport secretary Grant Shapps was saying that there is to be an urgent look at the 14-day quarantine. So urgent is this that a task force will be reporting in November. Oh well.
Urgency - the economy and Madrid
Urgency was a theme of last week, rather as it has been every week since March. The Confederation of Balearic Business Associations was painting an even more gloomy picture of the economy than it has been for the past seven months. "Unprecedented recession" is now upon us (which we probably realised anyway), and the economic shock will be "more persistent than expected".
Urgent plans were therefore needed. More urgent than previous urgent plans, but if the confederation thought that Pedro Sánchez might be concentrating on the latest urgent plans, it would have been mistaken. The prime minister was otherwise engaged in urgently attempting to hold back the Madrid Covid second wave but not getting the desired cooperation from the president of the Madrid region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso. Sánchez declared a Madrid state of alarm, and Ayuso compatriots in the Partido Popular claimed it was a party political exercise and a "health Article 155".
The third wave
In the Balearics, meantime, health authority rays of sunshine, Javier Arranz and Maria Antònia Font, were warning us that there will be a third wave, the second wave apparently now receding. They weren't putting a date on the start of this "probable" third wave, but the good money was on the Christmas festive period because of all the mobility. Arranz did at least suggest that a third wave will have less impact and will be of shorter duration. So that was reassuring.
We never close (normally)
If we really needed any further reminder of the devastating impact of the virus on Majorca's tourism, it came from the president of the Palma and Cala Major Hoteliers Association, Javier Vich.
Palma hotels, he said, have never closed over the winter. The hotel trade in the city itself is all year, but not this year. He didn't wish to contemplate how few hotels might be open come January or February, but right now only half of the total of 72 are open, and in November this is expected to go down to 25. And the ones which are open are registering occupancy of only ten to twenty per cent, a level at which they are most probably losing money.