Francina Armengol, Balearic President. | Pere Bota

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The President of the Balearic Government, Francina Armengol has come under fire from all sides throughout the pandemic, especially when the Islands became headline news at home and abroad for all the wrong reasons.

The Balearics are on the UK’s ‘Green’ list, but after the huge coronavirus outbreak amongst students on holiday, they may be dumped back into ‘Amber’ before long.

Who does President Armengol think is responsible for what happened?

“The responsibility belongs to those who break the rules. We have carried out a very slow and rigorous de-escalation and we had the foresight to maintain some restrictions that we thought were appropriate, such as the limitations on social gatherings, because it helps us to control infections. The Supreme disagreed and we have lost an important tool."

So, are we talking about the students or are there other responsible agents?

"I'm not going to look for culprits, far from it. It is obvious that when one violates the rules in a massive way infections multiply exponentially and those who launch activities that they can’t control will be dealt with strongly by the Government, as is the case with the organiser of the concert in the bullring.”

Didn't anyone realise that these end-of-year trips could be a risk factor?

“We couldn't anticipate that they would break the rules. If we look at the content of the trips, there is no illegal activity. There was little room for action beyond what we have done, such as acting on defaults, isolating positives and close contacts.”

Why was the bullring concert authorised?

“Amongst the measures to reopen cultural and leisure activities, approval was given on the basis that some restrictions were put in place: the audience must be seated, with face masks on and comply with social distancing regulations. The bullring has a permanent authorisation from Cort, but it had to comply with these rules and that didn’t happen, so a 200,000 euro sanctioning file has been opened.”

Are you concerned about the image of the Balearic Islands abroad?

“I am always concerned because we are a tourist destination, we want to be sustainable and safe, now more than ever and we have always been against excess tourism. We neither want it nor is it our reality.”

Are you worried that this reactivation that has begun could be stopped suddenly in the short term?

“What happened should make us see that we are on the right track, but the virus is still there and we must continue to be very responsible. The hospital situation is very good in the Balearic Islands and we are not worried that it will skyrocket, because the increase in the accumulated incidence rate is mainly due to young people, with generally milder symptoms. We believe that the economic reactivation will continue and at the moment we are the engine of Spain's economic recovery, thanks to all of you.”

Are the Balearic Islands a safe destination?

“Totally. We are the safest destination in the Mediterranean. We have done things very well and we must emphasise that we are the only ones on the UK’s ‘Green’ list, because it has taken a lot to get here.

The Government has been accused of being a kidnapper.

“Some have tried to do party politics through this situation and I find it regrettable because we put citizenship and the efforts made at risk. We have applied the health policy set by the Ministry of Health's Alerts and Emergencies Coordination Centre, who determine how to act in the event of positive, close contact. We did this to protect them, their families and citizens.”

Justice has agreed with the parents who denounced the confinement of their children in the hotel?

“I respect justice very much and I have no intention of arguing. We have complied with the sentence, but we will appeal it because we do not agree that they were allowed to exit. But without controversy, because I have absolute respect for Justice and all the powers of the State will continue to work together to protect the population.”

No Government has ever said before that a judicial order seriously compromised its health policy.

“I'm not looking to blame anyone for anything, not at all. We have tried to apply our health policy based on the protection of the population and what the regulations indicate. The Supreme Court won't allow us to continue limiting the number of people at social gatherings, but we must stand up for what we believe in.”

Were there pressures for the State Security Forces and Corps to force the students to stay in Hotel Palma Bellver?

“No. There has always been a fantastic collaboration with all the institutions and also with the Department of Justice. One of the strengths of the Balearics is that we work together.”

President Armengol is aware that things are very complex and difficult at the moment, but when it comes to demands for her resignation and calls for early elections from the opposition, she’s adamant that she’s not done yet.

"I'm not exhausted by any means, I have the will and strength to continue fighting for the citizenship of the Balearic Islands,” she insists and defends her Government’s strategy. “We have shown that we can save lives and reactivate the economy and citizens have had better results because of our progressive approach.”