Christmas in Palma, Mallorca

Christmas Covid rules in Mallorca were being amended.

20-12-2020Miquel À. Cañellas

Worries about deliveries for Christmas not being made in time could be a thing of the past. Amazon was on its way to Mallorca, and the news provoked a similar division of joy and misery to that which had greeted the landing of Primark on the island.

The misery was that of local business, confronted by multinational muscle, be this in a shopping mall or on an industrial estate. As news emerged early last week of Amazon's possible arrival, there were "ripples of fear". Some twenty-four hours later, by which time it had emerged that Amazon was using a TIPSA warehouse pro tem, fears were being "stoked". A day or two later, the rippling and the stoking were as nothing to the horror of knowing that Amazon's own warehouse was being prepared.

What the trade director-general thought

In the space of a few short days, the regional government went from being unaware of any Amazon plans and saying that it would be unlikely to oppose Amazon presence to stating that it was unnecessary for Amazon to operate with its own centre in the Balearics. The trade director-general Miquel Piñol clearly understood Amazon's business better than Amazon did, and he stressed that the government would be "keeping a close eye" and making sure that the multinational acted correctly.

Tier Four and 500 cases

It takes something for the focus of attention to be shifted from you know what, and to be honest not even Amazon managed that, especially as Mallorca found itself at Tier Four and the daily number of new cases topped 500 for the whole of the Balearics, with Mallorca close to managing this number by itself.

On Thursday, the regional health minister, Patricia Gómez, observed that if the number reached 500, "measures" would have to be rethought. A couple of hours later, and her ministry announced that 500 had indeed been reached.

Christmas ending early

What further measures could there be? Tier Four had been announced. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will officially end at 10pm and terraces will have to be vacated by 6pm on Christmas Eve and on Fridays and Saturdays. "It's not about celebrating Christmas, it's about staying alive," stated the minister, who added that the Balearics was one of only two regions of the country (the Canaries was the other) without a perimeter lockdown.

Testing travellers

Travellers were thus able to leave or arrive, albeit the latter (from the mainland as well as from overseas) will now need to have tests but will be able to celebrate Christmas - to a maximum of six. However, might this mobility not add to the already rising number of cases? The minister said that the impact of the Constitution holiday earlier this month had yet to be assessed, but President Armengol seemed to know otherwise: "We are all aware that when there are fiestas, there are increases"; the consequences of the Constitution holiday were now being seen.

The vaccine's coming

Against this background, and more important than Amazon being on its way, a different multinational will be spreading Christmas cheer in a week's time. The national health minister, Salvador Illa, said that the Pfizer vaccine would be available on January 4 or 5 but revised this schedule later in the week. The first vaccines could be in arms by as early as next Sunday.

A brighter 2021?

So, could we all be looking forward to a brighter 2021? The tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, was hopeful. He was in fact confident of Tier 1 being recovered along with safe corridors. The president of the Confederation of Balearic Business Associations, Carmen Planas, observed that Mallorca couldn't withstand a fourth wave; this would be the last straw for the hospitality industry.

With the vaccine comes hope. For the time being though, warehouses, when not being earmarked for Amazon, have been doubling as mass screening centres. Inca will be the next municipality.

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