I’m not going to lie, it’s been a tough start to the year on the White Isle. Ibiza’s Covid-19 numbers have hit an all time high after the Christmas festivities where common sense was thrown out of the window, we are once again scratching our heads and looking for the way forward.
It’s now February which means that Spring is just around the corner yet it feels like we’ve gone 2 steps forward and 5 steps back. Before Christmas Ibiza’s numbers were the envy of the rest of Spain but now we are the poor relations, hidden away and confined to quarters until further notice. When we hoped to be preparing for a summer season we are still looking for a way out of this almighty mess.
With close to 4000 active cases Ibiza and Formentera is perilously close to tipping point with unprecedented pressure being applied to the health service on a daily basis. The mass screenings across the island have pushed up the numbers and even though the majority of cases are asymptomatic the hospitals are reaching breaking point.
All the while us British ex-pats have to endure the UK news telling us how many Brits are being vaccinated daily. Over the last few months it’s become clear that the vaccine is the only real way out of this situation if we want to get back to some form of normality. It’s Boris Johnson’s ‘get out of jail free card’ and boy is he playing it to it’s full extent.
Nearly 10 million UK people have been jabbed, friends are putting up photos every day of their parents, grandparents or of themselves. Regardless of the total ineptness of what went before even Matt Hancock, one of the most useless politicians of my lifetime, is coming out smelling of roses after it was revealed that he rejected a contract that might have meant losing control of the Oxford vaccine that eventually went to Astra Zeneca. When Halfwit Hancock starts to look good you know we are on weird street.
Now what relevance does the UK vaccine numbers have on us here in Ibiza? Not a lot apart from showing us how it should be done because on the same day the UK was jabbing record amounts of arms it was revealed that Ibiza had vaccinated only 500 people so far on an island of around 150,000 who’s world has been turned upside down more than most due to it’s over-reliance on tourism.
The Spanish are famous for their ‘mañana’ attitude and Ibiza takes this attitude to the extreme but this is one fight we need to face head on and grab the bull by the horns. Unfortunately Francina Armengol, the leader of the Balearic parliament, seems incapable of fighting our corner lurching from 1 crisis to another, issuing soundbites that make no sense and sucking up to her boss in Madrid, Pedro Sanchez, without sticking up for the islands she gets paid very well to represent.
Like most politicians, Sra Armengol had a free pass last year as nobody knew what was happening or how to react however 1 year on and she’s still fumbling around in the dark trying to reassure islanders while flying in to take away liberties, shame she didn’t go hardball 2 weeks before Christmas. Reacting has become her byword earning her the nickname Armageddon as the protesters who took to the streets of Palma over the weekend can testify.
The Balearics continue to be the whipping boys of Spain, happy to roll over and let the Madrid politicians tickle our belly and throw us a small treat from time to time to quell the rabble rousers even though our economy has been decimated more than most.
Ibiza didn’t cover itself in glory during the holiday period but we deserve better than this, even the Falkland Islands, a sheep-farming outpost over 8000 miles away has a better strategy than Ibiza does – one of the worlds most iconic tourist destinations.
We urgently need a structured roll out of the vaccine where everyone is kept in the loop and so we can see some glimmer of light at the end of a dark tunnel. Is that too much to ask? Melia Hotels CEO Gabriel Escarrer has said that we need to have a clear roadmap for vaccines including 24/7 availability with a private and public strategy and he is bang on the money. While we continue to dither we can see summer slipping away right before us.
Rather than soundbites and broken promises it’s time for Sra Armengol to stand up and fight for the islands, breaking with party lines if needed. If Bumbling Boris Johnson can come out of this well then so can she. Every day without a realistic plan is a day wasted, the clock is ticking, a lot of people’s livelihoods depend on it and it’s a matter of life and death in more ways than one.