Having previously stated that they would only accept vaccines administered by the NHS, the UK Government announced early this week that it would relax this hardline stance and recognise jabs issued overseas. As the week unfolded, there was a suggestion that expats would have to apply to register their jabs with their British GP - and only those approved for use in Britain, namely Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech or Janssen - however, with a limited number of overseas residents still registered with a British doctor, it was deemed slightly ridiculous. And then, on Wednesday afternoon, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that thousands of British expats could now avoid a strict ten-day quarantine by way of this tweet: ‘We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK. From 2nd August at 4am people from these countries will be able to come to the England from an amber country without having to quarantine if they’re fully vaxxed.’ (sic) The pre-departure and day two tests would still apply - in short, they would be treated the same as those who had been fully jabbed by the NHS. People (especially those working in the travel industry) were so pleased they forgave Grant his erroneous ‘the’ before ‘England’. For now, France remains on the amber plus list. The next travel update is expected on 4 or 5 August when, rumour has it, a new amber watchlist will be created - just for Spain.
The German Government’s public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute, announced last Friday that, from Tuesday 27 July, Spain and the Netherlands were going on the country’s ‘high-incidence’ list. This meant that those German citizens over six years of age who weren’t fully vaccinated would have to go into quarantine for ten days upon return from their Balearic holiday. German tour operators said that they’d seen a significant increase in passengers who’d brought forward their return flights, coupled with a wave of cancellations - particularly those with young families. Meanwhile, a number of Mallorca hoteliers predicted a 20% drop in hotel occupancy. The areas most affected by the new measures were Cala Millor, Cala d’Or, Playa de Muro, Capdepera, Alcudia, Can Picafort and Playa de Palma. Just for added confusion, on Monday the US CDC warned against travel to Spain raising its travel advisory to ‘Level Four: Very High’, while on Tuesday, the Netherlands Ambassador in Madrid tweeted: ‘Good news for tourism. Thanks to the vaccine and COVID certificate, from today the Netherlands will no longer advise against travel to Spain’. So we’re all on the same page then - not.
Good News and Bad News
On Thursday, there was good news and bad news. Starting with the bad, despite the fact that July was yet to draw to a close, it went down as a record-breaking month for COVID-19 infections. With 11,912 positive tests, this beat the previous record of 11,627 reported cases in January this year. The good news was that, thanks to the vaccine, hospitalisation rates were far from the peaks of previous waves. Current figures show 53.9% of the Balearic population is fully vaccinated, almost 16% shy of the Government target of 70%.
Back to Work
Thousands of people are going back to work in the Balearics. According to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics, an extra 60,300 went back to work in the second quarter of 2021, up 12% over quarter one. In total, 562,300 were employed across the Islands, up 50,100 on the same quarter in 2020. A relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions and an accelerating vaccine programme are both credited with this turnaround of fortunes. This positive trend is reflected across Spain, with the main employment increase seen in the services sector, followed by construction, industry and agriculture. By regions, the Balearics were in second spot for job growth in quarter two, beaten only by Andalucia who added 102,400 to its workforce.
Britain’s Sexiest Voice
On Thursday, Times Radio invited me on to Mariella Frostrup’s social trends and interviews show to talk live about how the pandemic was affecting the Balearics. Aside from being enormously self-conscious about the fact that I was chatting to the oft-voted ‘Britain’s Sexiest Voice’ (how could I ever compare?) we managed to rattle through plenty of facts and figures on the Islands’ economy, health situation, luxury market and enduring celebrity magnetism. I hope I did us justice.
Cry for Help
To wrap up the week, Eden Sanctuary put out a plea for an animal lover(s) with €80k to spare. Founder Nicole and her one- two- three- and four-legged 52 ‘babies’ - all with chronic health conditions - are being forced out of their current rental and want to buy some land outright so they never have to face this precarious situation again. Nicole has found the ideal place - land with on-site accommodation - and the total cost (with tax) is 130,000 euros. She has crowdfunded 20,000 euros and been offered 28,000 euros more, leaving an 82,000 euro shortfall - and the clock is ticking. You can help the registered charitable association by contacting Nicole direct on +34 629 53 54 66 or donating here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/land-for-eden-sanctuary. At the same time, long-established children’s charity Allen Graham put word out that their van was on its very last legs. They’re looking for something similar to replace it, but are unable to participate in fundraising events due to the current restrictions. If you know of a suitable vehicle, contact founder Rosemary on +34 610 66 20 86.