The airports authority Aena has a stock explanation for when things get somewhat congested and fractious at its facilities. Peaks of activity, specific days. A load of flights at a time, and the consequences are queues and frustrated travellers. This was the case before Covid, and it is now the case – with knobs on – because of Covid. On certain days. At certain times.
Phones at the ready, and travellers upload images to Twitter. Chaos. Passengers huddled together for ages, frantically waving QR codes. It’s as if the term social distancing had never been invented. At Son Sant Joan last weekend, there were apparently “ugly scenes”. If there really were, they weren’t on the same scale as those at Malaga Airport. Peak of activity, noted Aena.
Setting fire to sunloungers
While all this chaos was seemingly kicking off, the security forces were otherwise engaged in arresting Britons wanted by the Belgian authorities and Irish laddos whose idea of the craic in Santa Ponsa – setting fire to sunloungers and parasols – was destined to end up only one way. Badly.
Outside arrivals, meanwhile, crowds gathered to collect loved ones were treated to the sight of minibus operators having a ding-dong. Nothing to do with us, said the taxi drivers, who have had their run-ins with the minibuses, which are only allowed to pick up with prior bookings.
Controlling the passengers
For domestic travellers, there was one less form. Armed with the Covid certificate as proof of double-jabbing, there was no longer the need to also present the ‘health control form’ (locator form). While the Balearic government relaxed this requirement, it extended the port and airport controls for Spanish travellers until September 27.
In so doing, the government re-emphasised its efforts at Covid travel control. It was the Balearic government who got Madrid to agree to these controls. Misrepresented at times, it was never Francina Armengol who had “invited” in British holidaymakers without tests; that was the Spanish government.
German police in Mallorca
Certain German travellers would have been shepherded through a special and discreet control. These were German police, who were to take part in a major operation along with the Guardia Civil against a multi-million euro fraud. It was quite possibly the biggest fraud since the last biggest fraud, but didn’t involve a real-estate agent known as ‘Charly’ fleeing Spanish territory and heading for Colombia.
The end of the ‘not-a-curfew’
Special controls were the order of the weekend for the island’s police. Not at the airport but out on the streets. The government had lifted its not-a-curfew and was preparing for the inevitable consequence. The botellón is banned, spokesperson Negueruela reminded potential youthful no-gooders. And the fines are much tougher.
As inevitable were the calls for nightlife to be reopened. That would put an end to the botellón, which it wouldn’t, as there always was the botellón when nightlife was open. But a reopening would mean a safer and controlled environment. The government was setting no date for when clubs might be able to open their doors again, its preference for the Covid certificate having been kicked into touch by the high court.
The vaccination programme continued to stutter, the Delta variant-determined herd immunity percentage still over ten percentage points off. The government was told by Madrid that it had no powers to force health and social care workers to be vaccinated. The education minister pleaded to the ten per cent of unvaccinated teachers to get the jab, and the health ministry’s latest idea for boosting the programme was to close the mass vaccination centres (except Son Dureta) and hope that people would go to their nearest health centre instead.