Balearic government meeting with business representatives

Socially distanced representatives of the hospitality industry learned about meters, air purifiers and customer data.

21-11-2020Pilar Pellicer

Bars and restaurants in Majorca don't solely exist for the pleasure of tourists. Which is just as well, given that there haven't been any tourists this year; not many anyway. This truism of bar and restaurant existence is at its most obvious during the festive season, when windfalls can be enjoyed because of, for example, company dos.

But with this festive season being determined by "the measures" and the threat of the twelve days of Christmas being extended by two because of self-isolation requirements, any restaurant contemplating the roasting of chestnuts over an open fire will need to ensure that there is a CO2 meter in the vicinity to measure particles emitted by the fire. Moreover, diners will need to have access to these meters in order to check for themselves whether there is adequate natural ventilation. But who will these diners be?

Defining the size of a company do

The health ministry, which had already decreed that there can be no more than six people at a table, now came up with a limit on the numbers who can attend a company do in a restaurant. Six. For a company with twelve people, therefore, they can still have a do, but six of them will have to be in one restaurant and the other six in another restaurant. Perhaps they can Zoom eat, as all twelve will not be in the same establishment, even if they sit at different tables.

And if any restaurant had the bright idea that it might be able to arrange company do diners at multiple tables, they were swiftly disabused of this idea by the ministry saying that its inspectors will easily be able to pick out same-company people because they will be "communicating with each other". And presumably spraying out aerosols in the process as well.

Keeping customer records

It was bars and restaurants week last week, their tourist function seemingly the reason why it was the tourism minister who was informing them that they need to have CO2 meters. Iago Negueruela also let them know they are going to have to keep records of all their customers. Which is the sort of thing that raises disquiet on data privacy grounds but operates in many other places as a sensible means of being able to trace contacts if the need arises.

Negueruela later handed back to Patricia Gómez at health, who offered bars and restaurants some consolation by saying that capacities are to be increased. All in time for Christmas, therefore, so long as this increased capacity doesn't involve more than six people from the same company. What about from the same family?

Rapid antigen tests, please

The European Commission appeared to have come to the aid of the travel industry, and indeed travellers, by recommending the use of rapid antigen tests. They're quicker, they're cheaper, they're far more convenient than PCR tests, and their validity is such that they are now being used widely as an alternative to PCRs. And so the tourism and travel industry was asking the Spanish government to rethink its demand for travellers from overseas to have PCR tests. It was also pointing out to the government that its provision of antigen tests at its own airports was somewhat inconsistent.

Perhaps the government will rethink, which would be in line with general policy: you never really know from one day to the next what the current rules are.

Lower risk in the Balearics

We were at least reassured to learn that the Balearics is no longer a Covid "extreme risk" region of Spain, the 14-day cumulative incidence per 100,000 having dipped below the 250 extreme threshold. Now only being high risk was very much better, and the hope of even managing to join the Canaries at medium risk was growing. The numbers of positive cases per day were dropping, and the positive test rate was down as low as 2.53%.

All good news then, but there are the holidays looming - two sets of them, Constitution and Christmas, with their implications for mobility. President Armengol appeared confident that Madrid would accede to a request for travellers from the mainland to have tests before travelling - PCR tests. Or would antigen tests now suffice, the Balearic government itself having gone on for weeks about the need for PCRs?

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