Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith) is a classic summer hit. It contains the line: “This is the Fresh Prince’s new definition of summer madness.” If Will Smith had happened to have been in Mallorca last week, he would have had plenty of ammunition to revise his definition. As it was, Mallorca managed well enough on its own. It was insane.
The world’s attention was turned to Mallorca because some bright sparks of tour agencies on the Spanish mainland had decided to defy all possible Covid logic by arranging student trips, some of which are laughingly known as study trips. They arranged them, and no one prevented them. Ferry operator, hotels, party boats, Palma’s bullring; there were various grateful takers.
Mess and more mess
It was left to the Balearic government to sort out the mess. It didn’t believe that it was adding to the mess by ordering the ‘Covid hotel’ isolation of students deemed to have been close contacts. But more mess was most certainly generated. A Palma judge, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Guardia Civil and the National Police – none of them were happy. The director general of public health was denounced. A Covid-denying anti-vaxxer turned up at the hotel. Bars were supplying alcohol to the students. The national government delegation was to describe bad behavior of students at the hotel as “without precedent”. And all this was going on several kilometers away from a quiet Magalluf.
In isolation across Spain
Had it wished to, the government would have been entitled to say to the judge – “told you so”. Instructed to let students who weren’t positive to leave the hotel and return to the mainland, there were more positive cases once they arrived back. Eleven regional governments on the mainland were now having to pick up the pieces. In Madrid alone, there were, by Thursday, 696 positive cases among students and 135 related positive cases, including a parent who had been hospitalized.
By contrast, the 260 students who had been isolated in the ‘Covid hotel’ were nothing. The Balearic government did what it thought was right. A judge decided that it wasn’t right. Another judge, the Balearic government’s vice-president, Juan Pedro Yllanes, said that this ruling “seriously compromised the Spanish government’s entire health policy“.
The soaring incidence rate
No one was too sure how much the students had contributed to a rising incidence rate. And that included the spokesperson for the regional infectious diseases committee, Javier Arranz. But whatever this contribution may or may not have been, the incidence among the 16-29 age group was soaring – a 14-day incidence by Friday of 447.
Away from the student trips, large ‘bottle’ street gatherings on the Son Castelló industrial estate in Palma were virtual no-go areas for the police. The Sant Joan fiestas, which hadn’t formally taken place, had nevertheless proved to be superspreaders because of these gatherings. In Minorca, the incidence was soaring way more than in Majorca. The government, having opened vaccination appointments for the 16-29 age group in Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera, now did so in Majorca.
The green watch list Brits
Concerns about the Delta variant meanwhile clouded the arrival of British tourists. The green watch list came into effect on Wednesday morning. Everyone was wondering how long it would be before the amber light was switched on again.
The Balearic government, confronted by a situation that the whole world knew about and not just the UK, was sticking to the line about the islands being the safest destination in the Mediterranean. Yes, the incidence rate was up, but it wasn’t coinciding with pressure on the health service.
We can but trust that this continues to be the case and also that the incidence decreases. Almost 60% of the target population had been vaccinated at least once. The latest employment figures pointed to economic recovery. A week of summer madness will hopefully be forgotten, and very swiftly.