"Everyone is congratulating me on the vaccination production line." Thus asserted President Armengol in parliament on Tuesday, she and the government having to respond to national ministry of health figures which showed that the Balearics were bottom of the national vaccination league table according to virtually every indicator. There was also the matter of the 140,000 doses of vaccine that were sitting in a health service fridge.
The president had been pestered by Jorge Campos of Vox, to whom she replied by wondering what planet he was on. "People are very content," she observed, while some other people queried whether she herself was on Planet Earth. As things were to develop, however, the contentment claim appeared to have substance. The daily doses were doubling, and the health service was now lining up the 35-39 age group for the vax queues.
But could things be moving at greater pace still? The government rejected the idea of large businesses vaccinating their employees. They were doing this in Valencia, the likes of Mercadona coordinating vaccine supplies from the regional health service and arranging private vaccination. "Established criteria" were to be stuck to, the government adding that it needed to keep control of the vaccination programme. Was Valencia's programme out of control?
Diplomacy and jabs
Patricia Guasp of Ciudadanos wasn't one for congratulating the president. In her estimation, the failure to get on the UK green list was all down to a combination of inadequate diplomatic efforts and the vaccination rate. The British ambassador, Hugh Elliott, disputed the former - there are "very good communications" with the Spanish government and the governments of the Balearics and the Canaries - but wasn't wholly glowing in his assessment of the latter: The vaccination "is progressing well in Spain, but it has a long way to go".
Banned, but to what effect?
The ambassador said that differential traffic-light treatment for the island regions will be studied "in principle" and so added to the latest round of what has become very familiar - the green-list speculation. Also familiar were the scenes of large gatherings of mostly young people on the streets after midnight. The curfew lifted and the Supreme Court having ruled that limits on social gatherings were in effect illegal, and the streets were alive with the sound of the "botellón".
President Armengol and government spokesperson (tourism minister) Iago Negueruela both stated that the botellón had been banned before Covid. Which may well be the case, but as police in Playa de Palma observed, their ability to issue fines is limited when there are upwards of ten thousand people milling around. Then came the news that the laughably called student study trips were being reactivated. It'll be carnage, especially as the clubs are still shut.
Relief for nightlife
For nightlife there was some good news at long last. The government was said to be looking at allowing clubs and similar establishments to reopen from the end of this month, with a closing time of 3am. At the same time as this was being spoken about, the Balearic parliament approved a government decree to amend public health legislation and to allow the imposition of curfews "in the event of a pandemic or epidemic". There was no suggestion that the curfew was suddenly about to be reintroduced, but the Balearics would now seem to have the legal means that doesn't require a national state of alarm.
To the aid of the islands' security forces will be coming 300 additional Guardia Civil and National Police officers. There is an 'Operación Verano' each summer, with reinforcements going to the main tourist regions, but even this assistance is unlikely to have much impact on the likes of the botellón. For this summer's officers there shouldn't be the problems of previous (pre-Covid) summers - finding enough and affordable rented accommodation has been nigh on impossible.