It was a week which started with decisions almost certainly already having been made but which couldn't be announced at the same time. You could sense from the language that agreements were in the bag but that there had to be management of their being confirmed. Governments don't just go around scrapping Covid rules in one fell swoop. It would be too much for the citizens to digest after so many months of being burdened. One at a time, one at a time.
The masks we did of course already know about, but this still demanded an "official" verification. This came on Wednesday, the build-up to the publication in the Official Bulletin having required a meeting on Monday of the Inter-Territorial Council for the Health System and a second one of the Spanish government on Tuesday - all to approve what had been agreed the week before.
Hints and speculation
Meantime, the Balearic government was "hinting" at an abandonment of the Covid passport. Spokesperson Iago Negueruela said that a meeting of the social dialogue table to discuss the passport had not, in principle, been scheduled for the week, meaning that there was obviously going to be one. President Armengol stated that it would be wrong to speculate about the abandonment of the passport, prompting everyone to do just that - and rightly so.
The passport agreement had to wait for the official casting aside of face masks on Wednesday, which just left the double-vax requirement for British teenagers. The president of the Canaries was reported last weekend as saying that a solution was being studied, so a solution was bound to be forthcoming. And it was. The timing was good, as this was on the Friday, the day after the Balearic passport was junked.
Tourism circularity unveiled
The scrapheap of Covid regulations, it is to be hoped, will be consumed by the furnaces of incinerators and not be on the list of circularity plans. These plans had been written into law, and the contents of the government's "tourism circularity and sustainability law" became clearer. Four ministers were needed to unveil this brave new act, which will be pioneering, because most legislation that the government introduces is pioneering (its word).
Holiday rentals' fury
The opposition parties were furious at a lack of consensus and at law being passed by decree, Armengol explaining that it will be subject to parliamentary procedure and to "improvements". What was so urgent to make a decree law be needed? It was difficult to say, though the environment minister, Miquel Mir, one of the four ministers, gave a clue. A freezing of new tourist accommodation places for four years - this was urgent, "essential", according to Mir, as the islands had to analyse their carrying capacities.
This freeze had the holiday rentals association Habtur equally as furious and crying foul, its mood not improved by the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation welcoming the legislation. The federation, said the president, Maria Frontera, is committed to growth in value, not in volume. She could have been speaking for Armengol or Negueruela, both of whom had stated the need for quality over quantity. The federation was also committed to circularity.
So, the hoteliers seemed content enough, as were the unions because of the law's emphasis on workers.
Better contracts, more pay, more jobs
It was a decent enough week for workers, it has to be said. The labour reform, it was estimated, will lead to some 13,000 improved contracts for workers in the Balearics. Their casual status will be upgraded to full-time or 'fijo discontinuo'. Still a long way to go in addressing all the temporary and insecure work on the island, but it was a welcome development.
As also was the increase in the minimum wage. Up to 150,000 workers will benefit from this, the UGT union reckoned. The general secretary in the Balearics, Lorenzo Navarro, found it "incomprehensible" that there could be objections to the increase from employers groups and those from "ideological circles". A thousand euros a month - hardly a king's ransom, but the minimum wage has now been raised twice in the space of six months.
At Meliá, the biggest of the island's hoteliers, 1,200 new jobs were being created. The company was confident of tourism recovery in the second quarter after the setback created by Omicron in the first.
An ever-improving situation
And what of the Covid situation? The withdrawal of the Covid passport and an end to the obligatory wearing of masks outdoors were both attributed to the improving situation. The passport was widely adopted in December, it having been a requirement for entering clubs and care homes since October. The mask-wearing obligation was reintroduced in December, just in time for Christmas. Had either really made that much difference in terms of transmission? Health experts argued that the mask was more political than epidemiological.
The Covid situation was indeed improving. The indicators were coming down. The February weather was kind. Things were looking up, and tourism booking figures were pointing in an optimistic direction.
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