New State of Alarm but with a Difference

It wasn’t entirely unexpected but it was still a blow when Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez announced on Sunday of a new national state of alarm (SOA) to start immediately.

This one is different. Unlike the last nationwide lockdown when families were unable to leave their homes for 7 weeks this version allows movement, shops and restaurants to stay open and, importantly, the measures will vary from region to region depending on the severity of the situation in specific geographical areas.

The only common feature is a national curfew from 11pm to 6am although regions have the power to change this by 1 hour either way. Cataluña for instance have imposed a 10pm-6am curfew whereas the Balearic Islands have now opted for 12am-6am after an appeal from business owners. The Canary Islands are exempt from the new regulations due to low contagions.

The SOA has been introduced for an initial period of 15 days however the Spanish government has said that it intends to keep it in place for up to 6 months in an effort to flatten the curve of the virus that has seen a 2nd wave take hold of large swathes of Europe and beyond.

Even though this is a political tool to give local governments the power needed I would have preferred an extension for an initial 3 month period. 6 months strays into May 2021 which is the traditional start of the summer season in Ibiza and any encroachment into this month sends out the wrong message so far in advance especially when things can change quickly, as we saw last summer.

Spanish regional governments now have the legal powers to bring in any new measures necessary to zones and neighbourhoods within their region such as what we have already seen in Ibiza when the urban areas of Ibiza Town and San Antonio were put into lockdown for 2 weeks.

Regions also have the power to close their borders to neighbours with higher virus numbers (something the Balearics haven’t done). Spain will now fight the virus on a local level. level overseen from Madrid.

For us here in Ibiza all eyes will be on Francina Armengol and her Balearic coalition government to see if they can get the numbers down and Ibiza back to business. As the Canary Islands have shown, the new local rules can be used for our benefit due to the unique geography of the islands.

The Balearics now have autonomous control over who comes in and out of the islands so can bring in rules to suit any situation. The big question is whether our regional and local government have the will and understanding to take the big decisions that can get us out of this mess?

Ibiza’s Winter of Discontent

It’s now over 6 weeks since the end of the shortest Ibiza summer on record. The fact that we had any summer at all was a bonus but that doesn’t make it easier, as the temperature gets cooler we are now staring a long anxious winter squarely in the face.

Many on the Island haven’t worked since October 2019, almost a year. How are people managing? Is it savings, is it handouts, is it a black economy? I can’t help thinking this is an island in denial, carrying on regardless faced with the biggest crisis of a generation while posting old photos through misty eyes. But what else can we do but soldier on and hope for the best?

The Balearic Islands (along with the Canaries) are unique within the economy of Spain in that they rely almost entirely on tourism and for that market this is the perfect storm. European governments’ strategy of ruling by fear means that many are now petrified of setting foot in an airport even though the stats show it’s virtually impossible (27 million to 1) to contract the virus while flying.

Press reports say that a vaccine is ready now but won’t be rolled out until Christmas or the new year at the earliest. This is a thorny issue as there are plenty of anti-vaxers out there especially as it’s been rushed through but it’s probably the best bet to get back to relative normality.

As always it’s the not knowing that’s the most damaging and it’s especially difficult when the mainstream media has it’s own agenda of shock and awe whilst armchair experts on social media are ready to troll anybody who doesn’t see it their way. Faced with exactly the same problem, worldwide governments have been doing things completely differently, making it up as they go along as there is no precedent. This tells us that nobody really knows what the best course of action is.

For now it’s time to batten down the hatches, cut our cloth accordingly and get through this winter of discontent as best we can – something that many are already accustomed to doing on an island with seasonal work.

Patience is a virtue and as history has shown it’s only a matter of time before we will get back to normal. Not even a virus can take away Ibiza’s natural beauty, location or work ethic and before we know it, it will be time for the White Isle to rise once again and show the world what it’s made of.