The Omicron variant - in this image, passengers from South Africa arriving in Amsterdam. | Reuters


Patricia Gómez had a touch of the Tony Blair's last week. In stating the V-word thrice over, the health minister was emphasising her message to all of us (and to soon include five-year-olds) who don't haunt the inner reaches of YouTube occupied by the Antivaxxerati.

No sooner had the European Medicines Agency given the thumbs-up to the Pfizer Junior Vax than Patricia was studying population data to determine how many Balearic under twelves will be eligible - some 83,000, it would appear. Given this number and the need to get the over-60s jabbed thrice over, the health minister suggested that the mass vax centres will need to be pressed into service once more. As the under-12s are notching up the highest incidence rates among all age groups, this sounded like a recipe for potential transmission disaster.

Flight bans and Covid certificates

Meanwhile, Europe was erecting the air barricades against something with the initially catchy title of Variant B.1.1.529, subsequently known as Omicron. In Spain, it wasn't wholly clear when the government intended to slap a ban on flights from South Africa and Botswana, but it did become clear that anyone arriving in Spain from the UK will only be able to do so if they have been vaxxed - and can prove it. Cue questions about children not eligible for vaccination.

By then, bars and restaurants in Mallorca (those with a 50-plus capacity) will almost certainly know that they will be facing the latest measure - one that won't require that they close but will insist on the Covid certificate being presented. The Balearic cabinet is set to approve this and then ask our learned friends at the high court to give their blessing. Away from the Balearics, as in the Basque Country, its high court said no to the certificate for bars.

No excuses

The tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, who on Mondays doubles as post-cabinet meeting government spokesperson, was to be heard banging his head against a brick wall in insisting that the great unvaxxed in the Balearics had no excuses. Correct though he may be, telling people they have no excuses may not be the best way of tackling the tardiness/refusal. Which is where the Covid certificate may come in of course.

The 2022 season

As to his day job, one of them, the minister would no doubt have been delighted to hear Ian Livesey of TUI forecasting that the 2022 tourism season will be close to normal. He would have been less delighted when Michael O'Leary popped up and offered some pre-festive period party-pooping. Bookings for next year had been almost 100% of pre-Covid numbers. Then came governments starting to reintroduce restrictions, and holidaymakers were putting off booking for next summer.

A ventilated Christmas

For the Christmas holidays, Iago handed over to Patricia, and the health minister said that family gatherings should be conducted with ventilation and mask-wearing. With any luck, festive season lunches should be possible outdoors (plenty of ventilation there), so long as it's stopped raining by then. Ventilation, ventilation, ventilation.

Covid funds, not the tourist tax

Back again to Iago, and the minister was defending the now notorious Los 40 Music Awards. Why had tourist tax cash been used to pay for Ed Sheeran and a host of Spanish/Latino pop acts? It was all about ensuring that "activity" extended into November, explained the minister, who added that the cash hadn't in any event been tourist tax revenue. It was from Covid funds, so he apologised for any confusion, albeit implying that Covid funds might actually include some tourist tax money.

Limiting ships

Finally, and with cruise ship limits under discussion, the Royal Navy's finest, Queen Elizabeth, suffered the indignity of having to wait because of cruise ships in port. Palma's mayor, José Hila, has been advocating four to five cruise ships a day, so long as they aren't all mega-cruise ships. What about four to five aircraft carriers a day instead? The Queen Elizabeth capacity is roughly a third of a typical cruise colossus.