As May, the historical start of the tourist season, fast approaches it’s fair to say that the ‘mass vaccination program’ hasn’t been what many of us had hoped for with photos in the local press (such as above) showing a handful of bemused people in the vast space of the Ibiza exhibition centre waiting for their jab. A million miles away from where we hoped to be.
There’s an argument that Spain is doing all it can in the face of a lack of vaccination supply due to EU failings and this can’t be denied but if I was to play devils advocate I’d argue that the Spanish holiday Islands have a totally different set of requirements to anywhere else in the country and possibly should be prioritised as we are seeing in the Greek islands.
Madrid, Barcelona and major Spanish cities have other industries to fall back on and have carried on regardless (especially Madrid) while the Balearic economy has been totally decimated. Ibiza has been overly affected by a pandemic that has seen travel bans from foreign governments and as a ratio of population affected the island must be right up there. As tourism has come to a grinding halt the food bank queues have got longer.
Now is crunch time. Now is when we need to show the world that Ibiza and the Balearics is a ‘safe destination, that the virus numbers are under control and that we have a strategy in place to ensure that they don’t spike again. A 2 pronged attack of testing arrivals and the vaccinating the local population in the hope that the Balearics is separated from the mainland and put on the safe travel list that enables tourists to travel freely without too many restrictions.
The reality is that daily press headlines aren’t reflected on the street coupled with the frustrating flip flopping with the Astra Zeneca vaccine. First it was only for the under 55’s then it was suspended due to potential blood clots issues (that weren’t directly attributed to the vaccine) then it was reintroduced for those under 65 then it was suspended again and when it was finally given the green light it was decided that it was now only for the over 60’s. Confused?
The AZ decisions went directly against the advice of the US, European and UK advisory/regulatory organisations which is a massive call when so many peoples lives rely on getting back to relative normality, If the capital of Spain was in Palma and not Madrid then the Spanish government might be more bullish with it’s decision making.
It’s not all negative as there is some light at the end of the tunnel. We have been told (again) that the ‘mass vaccination program’ is now going to be ramped up but like Peter and the wolf, when you are told the same thing over and over again and it doesn’t materialise you become a bit punch drunk but this weeks unveiling of an online bookable system for the jab is a big step forward and is a cause for optimism that we might actually catch up.
As San Antonio Mayor Marcos Serra said last week the press headlines about the vaccination program need to be converted into reality and the next 6 weeks should signpost the way forward with a clear roadmap. With more vaccines coming on to the market and delivery issues starting to be resolved let’s hope that this is the beginning of the end and not just the end of the beginning.