Masks and beaches in Menorca

Walking to the beach with a mask yes; but having to always wear one?

03-04-2021Josep Bagur Gomila

Madrid has no beach

In 1989, Spanish pop-rock group The Refrescos released a song entitled "Aquí no hay playa" - there is no beach here. It was once voted the best summer hit of all time, yet the lament in the song was that when the summer comes, there is no beach. And that was because it was about Madrid.

The mayor of Calvia, Alfonso Rodríguez, recently had cause to remind Madrid of the song and of the fact that the capital lacks a beach. This was apropos an apparent dig at Magalluf by a political party in Madrid. Last week, many in Mallorca would have had good reason to bring The Refrescos to Madrid's attention once more. Spain's health minister, in a city with no beach, had come up with an order that affected parts of Spain a considerable distance away from the capital, such as Mallorca.

As orders went, it was met with total incomprehension. The wearing of masks on beaches, except for "individual sporting activity in the open air", was to be obligatory at all times.

There then followed further incomprehension as the minister sought to explain how this order might not be applied after all. The lesson for the minister, apart from being made aware that Madrid has no beach, was that a far more rapid vaccination programme would hopefully not require such mask micro-management.

Almost 50,000 doses in a week!

And greater rapidity was indeed being promised. Balearic health minister, Patricia Gómez, was able to announce that a "record" number of doses will be delivered to the islands this coming week - some 49,000. Fantastic news! With this delivery in the immediate pipeline, it might just be that vaccination of the 70-79 age group can start. Meanwhile, and as of Friday, a third of those in the 80-89 age group had yet to go anywhere near a vaccination needle.

Waiting until August?

It was another week during which no one had the faintest idea what might happen this summer. From the UK, a high-ranking government "source" was quoted as saying that August was looking as if it would be the "most likely" start date for foreign holidays.

Matt Hancock wasn't ruling out summer foreign holidays, even if he was personally all for a staycation, while Germany's head of the chancellery, Helge Braun, appeared to agree with the unnamed UK source. Holidays abroad should only be possible from August.

"Nein," opined Germany's tourism commissioner, Thomas Bareiss. Let's have less talk about travel bans and more about making travel possible. And so we were back to, among other things, the vaccine passport, which in Spain will be ready by June, tourism minister Reyes Maroto was reassuring everyone.

More traffic lights

Having got used to red, amber and green for a variety of Covid applications, we were now presented with traffic lights for British holidaymakers and their destinations. Vaccination was key, and so Israel was suddenly everyone's favoured summer spot, albeit that Tui had yet to pronounce on this, or indeed any other tour operator.

This traffic light system, it was suggested, would have Spain on amber. Or at least until Spain can truly gets its vaccination act together and turn green. But Ryanair's Michael O'Leary was altogether more positive. "The vaccines are coming," he declared on Good Morning Britain. He was referring to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Europe will catch up, and by June, the runway lights will be firmly on green and people will be going on vacation again. All restrictions on short-haul flights between the UK and Spain will be removed.

There's nothing like optimism.

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