Bar terrace in Palma, Mallorca

Terraces were open all day.

15-05-2021Miquel A. Cañellas

"The falling leaves drift by my window. The falling leaves of red and gold." Tourism minister Iago Negueruela wasn't about to burst into song, and most definitely not into a classic that isn't exactly what you would describe as joyful. No, no, the autumn leaves of Mallorca will be a joyous sight, as they will be being kicked around by what "we miss most of all" - tourists.

The tourism season, the minister assured us, will last longer than usual - "well into autumn" - his boss, President Armengol, having previously suggested that it might even last until Christmas. Supporting the minister and president in their autumnal expectations were TUI, who are never shy of making predictions. Huge demand, said the tour operator, will mean an extension of the season.

Let's all hope therefore that things don't go wrong and that it's not all over well before Christmas. Meanwhile, there was a more pressing issue. When will the season actually start?

The start of the season

Despite the government's constant insistence that slow and prudent de-escalation of restrictions is designed to "save the season" (the start date for which would appear to be the first week of June; possibly), it may have escaped the government's attention that a season of sorts did actually commence several weeks ago - remember those Easter German tourists that the government hadn't really wanted?

And with Whitsun more or less upon us, a second wave of Germanic travel to the island was confidently being predicted, Germany's tourists clutching their Balearic government 'Safety Packs' and being reassured that they won't have to pay more than 75 euros for a PCR to get back into Germany.

The 'Safety Pack'

Iago Negueruela and Francina Armengol went to Berlin to proudly present the 'Safety Pack' of government-paid-for costs of return travel for any tourist whose stay has to be extended on account of testing positive while in Majorca. This was "very well received" by TUI and the DRV travel association, whose Norbert Fiebig declared the Balearics a "priority destination".

So, where Germany was concerned, the season looked as if it was on the point of take-off. The same could not be said, however, for the UK.

Blame it on Madrid

If only the Madrid region had been as slow and prudent as the Balearics. Iago and Francina both blamed the high incidence in Madrid (and the Basque Country) for the Balearics having not been placed on the UK green list. This blame may of course have owed something to the fact that the president of Madrid, Isabel Ayuso, is from the PP and that Iago and Francina are not, while there was also the not insignificant matter of the vaccination rate in the Balearics.

However, it did finally look as if mass was genuinely meaning mass, as the daily number of jabs exceeded 9,000. The whole population over the age of 50 is now on course for an appointment at a vaccination centre, assuming, that is, that they are able to make an appointment. When the notice went out for the 55 to 59 year olds to get booking, the Bitcita system crashed. No one could have seen that coming.

Slow and prudent optimism

Nevertheless, the spring air was full of slow and prudent optimism. Iago was optimistic, Spain's foreign affairs minister was optimistic. The bars and restaurants were slightly more optimistic, and so it was time to wheel out the light at the end of the tunnel cliché, as the president of one of the restaurants associations duly did. Terraces were now open all day (until 10.30pm) and every day. May 23 was the date for the interiors to open. But what was this? A government insistence that only bars and restaurants without terraces could open inside?

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