The "botellón" is banned, and there are now tougher penalties. | Ramirez

The restaurant and nightlife sectors in Mallorca fear that the ending of nighttime restrictions will mean that there will be "botellón" street gatherings and that these could spark off a new wave of coronavirus infections.

The ban on nighttime social gatherings has been lifted. It was originally from 1am to 6am and then from 2am to 6am. With the incidence rate in Mallorca having decreased significantly (the 14-day cumulative incidence is now just over 200), the Balearic government decided on Monday to lift the ban. It would, in any event, have faced great difficulty in getting the Balearic High Court to agree to an extension, given the decrease in the incidence rate.

The president of the Abone nightlife association, Miguel Pérez Marsá, says that, "without a doubt", there is a risk that large botellón gatherings will proliferate. Although they are not allowed, he believes that they are inevitable.

Pérez Marsá argues that nightlife venues should be allowed to reopen, as measures can be put in place to hinder the spread of Covid. However, the government has not given its approval, while its attempt to get the Digital Covid Certificate to be a requirement for entering nightlife establishments and therefore enabling them to reopen was rejected by the high court. The nightlife sector had itself been in favour of this requirement.

With certificate or not, Pérez Marsá makes the case for nightlife venues being safer environments because of measures that would be adopted. With nightlife closed, "there are more chances" of another wave because of the numbers participating in street gatherings who aren't vaccinated.

The president of the CAEB restaurants association, Alfonso Robledo, also fears that eliminating nighttime restrictions will lead to large gatherings. He believes that nightlife should be allowed to reopen with all safety guarantees to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Otherwise, tougher measures may well have to be reintroduced again.

Government spokesperson, Iago Negueruela, has stated that caution needs to be applied to nightlife. With regard to the botellón, the government is aware of the possibility that this will proliferate, which is why a special surveillance operation will be mounted this weekend. The minister emphasises that the botellón is prohibited and that penalties for those who do not respect the rules have been greatly increased.

Alfonso Robledo is meanwhile also warning that as all establishments are closed by 2am, the island could be turned into a "urinal". The beaches, despite the fact that they are closed from 10 pm, have become places where people go to urinate. Given this situation, he is calling for public toilets to be installed if nightlife is not open.