Queuing to get the Covid passport. | Jaume Morey

On the hoof

The high court having given its blessing, the Covid passport duly came into effect. And no sooner had it, than questions were being asked. It was also possible to hear the sound of hooves in the vicinity of government HQ as ministers set about rectifying policy following what seemed as if it had been a monumental cock-up.

It's worth recapping developments. Last Saturday was passport intro day. Bars and restaurants with interior capacities of fifty or more had to demand the passport. Until, that is, it was discovered that the rule didn't apply to bars and cafeterias. Eagle-eyed business associations pointed to the specific reference to restaurant businesses. This meant bars and cafeterias were excluded.

A menú del día

The government spent a good part of Saturday arguing the toss. It finally agreed that bars and cafeterias were excluded except, for some reason, if they served a menú del día. Having acknowledged the apparent error, there then came an explanation that the government hadn't intended bars and cafeterias to be included anyway. Which was odd, given that the government had devoted several hours on Saturday in insisting that they were.

It was then suggested that the situation would be reviewed in a couple of weeks, while the health minister was helpfully saying that bars were different because the turnover of clientele was usually that much more rapid than in restaurants. So, risks were much greater because of all the time that restaurant diners spend without a mask on. The reason for including bars which serve a menú del día started to become clearer. Possibly.

Bars and cafeterias included all along

Amidst all this came the realisation that the reference to restaurant businesses did actually mean bars and cafeterias as well. This had been stated in regional legislation from 2015. But by now, and because the government had excluded bars and cafeterias, when its original intention had seemingly been not to, the exclusion remained in place. Unless, that is, bars and cafeterias, even with capacities of under 50, wished to demand the passport. This was their right. Apparently.

Confusion. Erm, yes, just ever so slightly.

Protesting against the passport

The minister for the presidency was letting it be known that any restaurant (not bar or cafeteria) which removed tables in order to lower capacity below 50 would incur government inspectors' wrath. The minister reminded the hospitality industry of the menu of fines on offer, which Victor Sánchez, veteran protester as he has become, would no doubt have been well aware of.

Victor was insisting that if a waiter demanded to see a Covid passport and ID, this waiter would be acting illegally. On Constitution Day, Victor led a march of what he said were 4,000 people (other estimates reckoned a tenth of this number) in protesting against the passport. There were a lot of "angry and pissed-off people," he stated.

Vaccination demand

Presumably as a consequence of the passport, vaccination numbers started to increase. There were also queues to obtain the passport (which is available electronically). The renewed demand for vaccination may also have had something to do with the rising number of cases. By Friday, the daily rate was the highest since August 4.

Bookings grind to a halt

There was also the Omicron variant. There were eight confirmed cases of this in the Balearics by Tuesday. Omicron and rising incidence rates were beginning to put the mockers on tourism. Christmas and New Year bookings for Mallorca were grinding to a halt because of government measures and advice (the UK and German governments).

It was noted that this slowdown wasn't affecting Mallorca as much as the Canaries. Which it wouldn't, because there aren't the same numbers of winter tourists. Those that there were, last week enjoyed the latest storm to hit Mallorca - high winds prompted numerous calls to the emergency services.