Relaxation of restrictions
It was reminiscent of the days of de-escalation. Remember those days? My, how we looked forward to the summer. But with autumn upon us, we could welcome the news that, among other things, we will be able to chomp on popcorn in cinemas again. Relaxations there were, but only minor ones, because the restrictions have in any event been relatively minor, except in two Palma health areas. The people of the Son Gotleu area were relieved to learn that they would once again be allowed to enter and exit the health area without having to provide a good excuse as to why they were doing either.
Better coronavirus data
All things being relative of course, but the past few days have provided some good news for once. The positive cases per day have been tumbling, while the health ministry revealed that the virus incidence rate had gone down in 53 of the islands’ 58 health areas.
Safe corridors again
Buoyed no doubt by this improvement, the tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, was once more talking up safe corridors. The government certainly hasn’t given up on the corridors, given the government’s commitment to low-season, winter tourism. At which point everyone asked – what low-season, winter tourism? Well, it’s the tourism that the government is committed to, and the minister and the secretary of state for tourism were as one in insisting that everything is being done to reopen the corridors. Meanwhile, certain foreign governments appeared to have more pressing concerns … .
The tourism secretary of state
The secretary of state was in the Balearics for a sort of get-to-know-you visit, he being new to the role. It might be suggested that it was also a sort of get-to-know-about-tourism visit, as he – Fernando Valdéz – has a CV which isn’t exactly packed with tourism experience.
It wasn’t a great week for Spain’s tourism ministry. The secretary of state was confronted with the news that there has been no request to the European Commission to sort out financial aid for the tourism industry. The industry was naturally indignant, but Valdéz insisted that there had been 25,000 million euros of government aid for the industry with the approval of the European Union. So, that was all right, then.
Immediate measures needed
The industry was otherwise demanding “immediate measures”. One of these, the ERTE extension, will probably be given final approval at a minute to midnight on Wednesday, the way things have been going. A minute after midnight, and there won’t be ERTE. The employment minister, Yolanda Díaz, insisted that agreement was “close”, and she had particular words of consolation for the nightlife sector. It’s been having a “terrible” time, she noted, and so terrible has it been that the sector organised a “lock-in” protest on Wednesday to highlight its plight.
Another measure, and one suddenly in vogue, was the idea for tourism vouchers to stimulate national tourism. Why hadn’t the tourism ministry done anything about these, like the Italian government has? The minister, Reyes Maroto, was said to be considering vouchers.
But while she was doing this, the governments in Andalusia and Valencia came up with their own schemes. In Valencia, they’re budgeting 200 million euros. And coincidentally, we learned that the Council of Majorca will be splashing out 0.1% of this amount on 1,000 vouchers for hotel stays between the middle of October and the end of November.
The first storm of autumn
Finally, there was the weather. The first autumn storm was heading our way on Friday, we were warned. But the first? Hadn’t there been one a few days before? Well yes, and it hammered down in some areas, but the big difference with the “first” storm was the high wind and the very rough coastal conditions; hence there were orange alerts.
The wind was indeed fierce, but it would seem that nature wasn’t the cause of the added menace of this wind. The fire in Albufera, whipped up by the wind on Friday night, was apparently the result of human intervention. But then nature provided its own further intervention. Rain came to the rescue of Albufera.