Carrefour in Palma, Mallorca

Not so much of a welcome if you're obliged to close.

02-01-2021Laura Becerra

4pm, 6pm, 8pm, 10pm. The Mallorca afternoon and evening was being scheduled according to neat two-hourly divisions, the citizens having to pay close attention as to what these all meant.

Illegal parties

It was the police who arrived at the 4pm slot. Operation Prevent Illegal Parties on New Year's Eve, which wasn't what it was called but could have been, commenced at 16.00 on Thursday. Why the early start? Well, crafty ne'er-do-wells planning more than a dozen grapes at midnight must have felt that they would be able to move unmolested at that time, their vehicles laden with sound systems and industrial quantities of alcohol as they headed to a rented finca in the hinterland, breathing fire of droplets and depositing them on the already Covid-scorched earth of Mallorca's part forana.

Turning the lights off

The other pms were all of the government's doing or encouragement. Terraces, freezing cold on account of the wintry weather replete with stiff northerlies, were ordered shut every day at 6pm, they already having been commanded to do so on Fridays and Saturdays.

Large stores, whether allowed to open at weekends or not, were told that final customer stragglers needed to be turfed out by 8pm, the same time at which the government was asking town halls to switch the Christmas lights off and recommending that the citizens hunker down in their homes next to a roaring fire. Dissuasive tactic combined with encouragement (and some iffy weather) in an attempt at bringing forward the 10pm curfew by two hours.

Livid retailers

The large retailers were not pleased, said they would have to furlough staff and accused the government of a smear campaign. Being forced to close at weekends was only a measure up to next weekend, but "irreparable" harm was predicted as was being extremely busy tomorrow for last-minute Kings' gift-buying.

Shop local, shop alone came the messages from the government, which inadvertently probably acted as more publicity for online shopping. The large retailers insisted that they were safe precisely because they are large - great expanses of shopping space facilitate social distancing.

Sufficient measures or lockdown

There were some, meanwhile, who were wondering if the government measures weren't all a bit half-baked. With the incidence of coronavirus cases soaring, there had been an anticipation that tougher regulations would be put in place. President Armengol said that if everyone abides by the latest measures (which were announced last Sunday), they would be sufficient. She offered this view on two occasions, interspersed by the observation of the health minister, Patricia Gómez, that the government will request a lockdown of Mallorca if things worsen.

How worse did things have to get, though? Apart from record numbers of daily cases, the pressure in the hospitals was beginning to tell. Staff were being asked to give up their holidays, and operations were being postponed. Had Gómez wanted a lockdown last week, one had to wonder.

Tourism fighting talk

With everyone having more or less forgotten about tourism, there was always the Bloc d'Unitat Popular de Mallorca to remind us. Mallorca Day (New Year's Eve) shorn of its normal events, the BUP held a conference to compensate and, in so doing, reintroduced Balti Picornell.

Despite having had a haircut since his days as speaker of parliament, Balti had lost none of his pro-independence strength. The regional government was submissive to the tourism lobby, he informed the conference. A sovereign Mallorca, he declared, will ensure that the crisis is paid for by the big hoteliers and Airbnb.

Fighting talk, and as the New Year arrived with rubbish weather and expectations that things can only get better, the rest of us were yearning for the tourism big fight back in 2021.

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