Three Kings parade in Marratxi, Mallorca

The Kings in Marratxi.

05-01-2022

An inauspicious start to the New Year. Although Palma town hall hadn't organised anything for midnight and despite talk of special deployments of police hurrying any crowds along, people gathered in Plaça Cort for the traditional chiming of the bells at the town hall. They gathered, they had their twelve grapes at the ready, they waited, they checked their phones ... . The New Year had come and gone; the bells hadn't chimed.

The town hall was to say that there were bells, just that they were quieter than usual. So quiet, it would appear, that some missed them and had to tuck into the twelve grapes at five past midnight. Any normal year and there would probably have been demands for someone's head to roll, but 2022 arrived and things were as they had been in 2021 - not entirely normal.

Concerts off ... again

To this end, the town hall had to bow to the inevitable and postpone the concerts for the Sant Sebastià fiestas. The councillor for citizen participation, Alberto Jarabo, hasn't had much luck with his concerts. Covid in 2022, Covid in 2021, and not quite Covid in 2020 - Storm Gloria had instead been ripping through the city.

There was better luck with the Three Kings. So comparative normality reigned.

DIY sick leave

Omicron was spreading so rapidly that the previous week's forecast of up to 4,000 new cases a day was soon out of date. The health service's primary care system could no longer cope, partly because of all the demand for sick notes. Doctors were spending all their time either signing people off or back on to work.

Sick leave had increased by 270%. And that was last month. Needs were now such that pharmacies were pressed into initiating the sick leave process and the health ministry announced a do-it-yourself online sick leave system that will be operational some time this coming week.

The army joins the campaign

The vaccination campaign, now with renewed vigour and benefiting from the arrival of the army, was going more rapidly than it had been, but it would have been quicker still if some 26,000 individuals in the Balearics, who appear to know better than around 960,000, were rolling up their shirt sleeves (or whatever) and would thus not need to schedule a test 48 hours or 72 hours in advance of going for a menú del día.

The winter tourist

There was more ammunition for the anti-mega-cruise ship lobby, when fifteen people were taken off a mega-cruise ship after testing positive, a fate which - let's face it - could well befall passengers on cruise ships which aren't of the mega variety.

With cruise passengers offering one of the rare sights of a Majorcan January - foreign tourists - the monthly tourist figures gave us a reminder of how dramatically tourism falls off in winter. From having been first among Spain's regions over the summer in terms of tourist numbers (a position normally held by Catalonia), the Balearic Islands slumped to sixth place in November - just under 150,000 tourists.

More positively, Boris having announced a relaxation of travel requirements for the double-vaccinated, Jet2 launched special offers and saw bookings soar to pre-pandemic levels.

The Balearic debt

The Balearic government, rarely slow in pointing the finger of blame at Madrid for any financial shortfall, was sniffing the opportunity of getting that nice Sr. Sánchez to wipe off some 4,000 million euros of debt that it owes the Spanish government.

A ploy that has been aired on previous occasions, it was now beginning to look vaguely plausible, as Francina Armengol proposed a new system of regional financing. "Fiscal federalism" would apparently come with an in-built debt pardon.

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