Ibiza has had a very quiet week, not just on the streets but, thankfully, in the hospitals too. Only a handful of new covid19 cases plus plenty of discharged patients. The graph is going in the right direction and in the cold light of day when you look around the world our small island has got away with it so far.
This is the same small island that after some initial dithering closed the port and airport for all but essential travel meaning that confinement and containment was relatively straightforward, a matter of dealing with the daily cases when they came to light.
The feeling is that Ibiza and Formentera may have peaked at around 130 known cases which is fantastic news if that proves to be correct, our health staff and frontline workers have done an incredible job keeping a lid on the contagian outbreak.
The bad news is that once we have got on top of the health crisis there’s an even bigger one looming. The economic crisis has become the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about but talk about it we must. Ibiza exists on tourism so what happens when you take that essential ingredient away and how long can the island survive without it?
The existing lockdown is definitely until 26 April and then most probably extended in some form for 2 weeks thereafter but sooner or later we need to come up with a plan, the so called ‘exit strategy’. Even though any plan may be fundamentally flawed due to the unknowns, a plan must be put in place.
Germany, France, Italy and Spain will most likely come out of the health crisis first but there’s no guarantee that these countries will open up their borders straight away for fear of a 2nd wave of the virus. The UK were the last to the ‘party’ so should be the last to leave.
A tourist destination only exists, by definition, if tourists can get there so the positives of containing the virus on a small island becomes a negative if the airport and port decide to delay opening. Isolation then takes on a whole different meaning, a paradise island free of the virus so movement is allowed but also free of the tourists that bring us our bread and butter.
Ibiza relies heavily on UK tourism and as they are a few weeks behind the rest theres a chance that a delayed summer 2020 might happen but only with certain segments of the market. National tourism might be an option, flying over on monitored flights from the main hubs using technology to ensure the spread of the virus is minimised. Something is better than nothing but some hotels may decide not to open rather than operate half empty.
The European and world borders may only fully reopen once there has been a verified vaccine put in place, technology becomes available to monitor infections or when immunity outweighs the risks involved but in the exit strategy it needs to happen sooner rather than later otherwise the damage to the social and economic fabric of society may far exceed the fatalities of the initial wave.
Let’s hope that world leaders get together very soon and come up with a plan for open borders coupled with a realistic testing programme to ensure the safety of sovereign nations but also give us the economic stimulus we desperately need. Until then it’s a simple case of survival and coming out the other side with our health and sanity in place so we live to fight another day.
There is some good news in all of this. Ibiza is an island rich in natural beauty and full of charismatic entrepreneurs who specialise at relaunching their products year after year, an island full of hedonistic pleasures that has proved irresistible to generations of travellers.
If history has proven anything it’s that Ibiza has amazing bouncebackability and humans have very short memories.