Protest in Palma, Mallorca against bar and restaurant closures.

The protest went ahead, despite permission not having been given.

16-01-2021Jaume Morey

There were no self-proclaimed QAnon shamans with horns and a flag (which flag would it have been anyway?), it was no attempt at a storming of the Winter Palace, but the Balearic government's headquarters in winter was the setting for a protest against the latest restrictions. The hospitality sector, condemned to closure until the end of the month at least, marshalled what was variously estimated as having been 1,500 or 4,000 people. Parliament, Palma town hall, the ministry of health; these were other locations for what was an unauthorised demonstration, the government delegate, Aina Calvo, having decided not to give permission on health grounds.

Closing 24 hours later

Bar and restaurant proprietors and workers would have anticipated not being able to open on the Tuesday of the protest. This was before the government threw everyone into a state of total confusion by announcing that closures would take effect from midnight on Tuesday into Wednesday and not from midnight on Monday. Had the government thought that by making this change any unauthorised protest wouldn't go ahead, businesses preferring to eke the last remaining revenue streams from hospitality sales? Had it felt that the shopping centres wouldn't be packed on Monday as there would be two days of snapping up bargains in the sales?

No one knew why the government suddenly announced a 24-hour delay to the closures, as the government didn't offer any cogent explanation.

Aid for business

The hospitality sector, having displayed its displeasure, was asked to be patient. Aid was on its way, and when it arrived in the form of a 103 million euro package that was announced on Friday, President Armengol observed that this had been agreed with "maximum consensus and dialogue". This appeared to be somewhat debatable, business associations saying that it was insufficient.

Vaccines stuck in Madrid

The delay to the closures was in keeping with a week marked by another delay. Where were the vaccines? Storm Filomena had wreaked that much havoc that there were no planes with the right storage facilities to fly to the Balearics. The regional health minister, Patricia Gómez, had said on Monday that there would be a speeding-up of the vaccination programme during the week as the Moderna vaccine was also on its way. As things turned out, it was stuck somewhere in the general vicinity of Madrid-Barajas Airport along with the Pfizer vaccine.

On Wednesday, the minister demanded no more delays, and the national minister of health, Salvador Illa, promised a Thursday delivery, which duly arrived - by sea. But was the Gómez demand a diversionary tactic, such was the level of criticism of what had already been the slow pace of the vaccination rollout in the Balearics?

Extension of measures

With the vaccines on a snowbound mainland and a universal call for the army, dentists, vets and anyone competent with a needle to be co-opted into the vaccination programme, Patricia Gómez admitted that the latest measures might just have to be extended; this seemed to be confirmed by the government's aid package having provision until March. Moreover, "you can always be more restrictive," she observed ominously when asked about a possible home confinement of the population.

Extension was meanwhile certainly being adopted, the Spanish government now banning flights from the UK (except those with Spanish nationals or residents) until February 2.

No start to tourism

This latest travel restriction didn't help to fill the tourism industry with optimism. Maria Frontera, the president of the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation, was to the point. "Nobody knows when the season is going to start, either in the other regions or in the Balearics."

This may not have been what people wanted to hear, but she was expressing an unfortunate truth.

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Lisa / Hace about 1 month

This week has probably been the most frightening since the pandemic, for those in Mallorca.

The vaccine program is a shambles. Government is focusing on the minor issues - while our tourism rivals romp ahead with ambitious and effective vaccination programs.

If Greece and Turkey can secure vaccinations and confidently predict their populations will, in the most part, be vaccinated and therefore safe by the summer, why can’t the Balearic Islands???

May I suggest a new slogan? Come to Mallorca, the island of tourist tax and an unvaccinated population. We will try to lockdown to reduce numbers of infections and Tui said over 50’s can come .. because they’ve had their gab at home.

Oh no wait, that’s the message that the government have been sending out all week themselves!!

But don’t worry, it will all be okay. They have a marketing film for Netflix’s and Amazon Prime. Shall I tell them???

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