23rd of March 2020
State of Emergency Extended for 15 More Days in Spain
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced that the state of alarm in Spain will be extended for another 15 days, in light of how quickly Spanish coronavirus cases are rising. Yesterday Sánchez informed regional leaders of the decision in a teleconference, which is still waiting to be approved by the Congress of Deputies. Once approved, the lockdown on Mallorca will continue until April 11th meaning that the island will be shut-down during the Easter holidays – a time that usually marks the start of the busy tourist season.
With 331 confirmed cases on the Balearic Islands and 10 fatalities, the coronavirus shows no sign of waning, despite all efforts across the island to stay inside. This week is predicted to be the hardest yet for Spain, particularly in Madrid where pressures on hospitals and staff are reaching crisis point.
Meanwhile on Mallorca, community spirit is still high at 8pm when residents step out to clap in solidarity. Some residents in Palma have converted their balconies into mini DJ sets, encouraging neighbours to stay positive during this difficult time. One resident in Palma says that the 8pm balcony clapping is what she looks forward to most. “I live on my own and seeing my neighbours’ faces every evening reminds me that we’re all in this together. We shout across the street and ask if we’re all ok! Extension or no extension, whatever happens we’re looking out for each other.”
20th of March 2020
How the Coronavirus Could Benefit Mallorca
Since the coronavirus lockdown in China, it has been reported that residents are waking up to sunny clear skies, instead of the usual grey smog that blankets their cities. The Chinese capital of Beijing normally blurred by a thin layer of cloud is now a clearer and much cleaner place to live. This is potentially due to mass travel bans and factory suspensions under the coronavirus outbreak, causing a plunge in production and factory smoke.
The question is, given the huge drop in transport and activity on Mallorca, could the same thing happen here? In light of the recent decision on 17th March to close Palma Airport and the ports, the carbon footprint here is set to plummet, giving Mallorca a chance, like China, to revive itself.
The effects of tourism on Mallorca’s environment is a widely disputed issue, from Cleanwave’s Philipp Baier fighting to reduce plastic to environmentalists protesting in the street, time for change has been on Mallorca’s horizon for a while. Therefore, this isolation period could give Mallorca’s oceans, fields and mountain trails time to recover, a break from human activity and the chance to breathe.
Yesterday, Venetians reported seeing swans and dolphins in Venice‘s canals, swimming in water so clear that fish are visible. If a similar effect could happen on Mallorca, we too might see a resurgence of marine life return in clearer waters. All we can do is wait.
19th of March 2020
How the Coronavirus Is Affecting Local Businesses
Although there are only 112 infected cases of coronavirus reported on the Balearic Islands today, the isolation period shows no sign of ending yet, plunging local businesses into jeopardy. Companies on Mallorca have already begun the process of laying-off their employees, which in some cases, has been the entire company. It is expected in the coming weeks that thousands more will submit temporary employment files (ERTE) which will affect a large number of workers on the island.
To speed up the administrative process and ensure that unemployment benefits are issued quickly, the Balearic Islands have held talks between the government, employers and trade unions. An agreement was signed yesterday afternoon by the Minister of Tourism and Employment, Iago Negueruela, to implement a process which makes it easier to claim benefits. In preparation for the influx of temporary redundancies, the Balearic Employment Service (SOIB) and the State Public Employment Service have strengthened their staff presence, with teams on call day and night.
Tourism is Mallorca’s biggest sector which in its current state has become completely paralysed. This in turn, is having a detrimental effect on not just companies reliant on tourism but other businesses linked to the sector in general. As we move closer towards the beginning of the season, more businesses are preparing themselves for a very difficult year.
If anyone is unsure of how to claim unemployment benefits at this time, El Govern de Baleares has opened a special phone-line to help, call 900 101 798.
Find out how your business on Mallorca can get support under the current coronavirus lockdown and apply for an ERTE application. […] Government support for businesses due to COVID-19
18th of March 2020
Balcony Opera in Palma
For many of us living on Mallorca, the balcony area might not be any more than a place to hang our washing. However, under the current lockdown over coronavirus, opera singer Antoni Lliteres has turned his balcony into a stage. Every evening Antoni sings from his home in the El Fortí neighbourhood in Palma, bellowing out songs that make his listeners well-up.
Originally from Artà, Antoni has starred in many stage productions all over the world and was the first Mallorcan to sing as the protagonist in La Zarzuela. He says he was inspired by the Italian singers who were entertaining their neighbours under lockdown in Italy and felt that he could offer the same in Mallorca.
Videos of Antoni singing have gone viral on social media which has encouraged him to continue, as he sets to stage his performance every day before sunset. Listeners can hear his voice ring out from a balcony on Carrer de Francesc Martí I Mora in Palma and even if it is for just a second, have their attention diverted away from the current crisis.
17th of March 2020
The Coronavirus Effect on Schools
For many students who are sitting their exams early summer, the coronavirus could not have come at a worse time. However, schools on Mallorca are finding ways of connecting with their students online and continuing classes as normal.
One 14-year-old student at Agora Portals International School says she is receiving three two-hour classes every day, which is enough to keep her busy. Although, with some subjects being taken by over 75 students, it is no easy task keeping all the classes running smoothly.
Teachers at the Escola Oficial d’Idiomes (EOI) in Palma are sending their lessons via email with tasks that can be sent back for marking. One student learning Spanish says she is trying her best at home: “My teacher has sent me plenty of activities to do but since I’m watching the news all the time in Spanish I’m learning quite a lot!”
Whatsapp groups are being used effectively to keep spirits high between classmates where funny videos and GIFS are shared. Another student at EOI says that feeling part of a team is really helping her in isolation, “I feel much closer to my classmates right now, having a group chat where we can help each other is giving me the push I need to keep learning.”
16th of March 2020
Real Life on Mallorca as the Coronavirus Makes an Impact
How quickly life on Mallorca has changed. In a matter of 48 hours, the island has gone from bustling squares and beers on the beach to flights being cancelled, businesses shut down and the rise of #mequedoencasa (#Istayathome). Everyone on the island, except those in the health, food and pharmaceutical sectors, has been told to stay at home in a collective effort to curb the rise of coronavirus.
On Saturday 14th March, the Spanish government declared a state of emergency, ramping up containment measures across Spain to prevent the virus from spreading further. Bars, sport centres, shops, gyms and restaurants with more than 300 people have been ordered to shut down. This followed after it was announced on Thursday 12th March that schools would be closed for a fortnight and major events cancelled. Over the weekend, many residents across the island stocked-up on food and re-organised their work lives in preparation for the two weeks in isolation. Only when really necessary, whether that be buying food or going to the pharmacy or hospital, is it permitted that residents leave their homes. This comes at a drastic time to halter the spread of the coronavirus in Spain, as the country falls behind Italy as the worst affected in Europe.
Lockdown on Mallorca
At time of writing (16th March) tighter measures are still being enforced to warn off people from meeting in public places. Across Mallorca, the National Police are patrolling the streets to disperse any sign of gathering or public meeting, as well as monitoring traffic. All travel movements should be individual and for essential purposes only, with public transport still running but at 50% capacity. As it stands, the people of Mallorca are adjusting to the situation and following advice: wearing masks, washing their hands and keeping a distance. Prohibited outdoor activities such as going for a walk, bike ride or stroll along the beach are all being followed, with the exception of taking the dog for a walk.
Business owners are evidently concerned considering how reliant the island is on tourism, but given the extremity of the situation and the importance of looking after those most vulnerable, the community is coming together in solidarity. This is seen no more clearly than at 8pm when a wave of clapping sweeps the island. Every evening for the past few days, residents have been stepping out onto their balconies in support for those working hard to stop the virus. “I thought it was raining at first” says one resident in Palma, “and then I stepped outside and saw all my neighbours clapping and cheering. It was one of the most emotional things I’d ever seen.”
WhatsApp groups and Skype meetings are all being introduced by companies in an effort to maintain an easy flow of communication between their employees. For those who are able to continue working from home, their daily life can at least still follow a structure, starting at 9am, stopping for a lunch break and then finishing late afternoon. However, for those who cannot work, every-day life is feeling quite different. One shop assistant in Palma says she was thrilled at first, thinking of all the Netflix shows she could binge-watch and then after a day or so, the reality sunk in. “I’ve told myself that I will make a daily plan and not just sit-around. I have to keep my mind and body active, otherwise it’s going to be a very hard two weeks.”
Can You Travel to Mallorca?
As difficult as it is for people on Mallorca to wind-down, stay inside and not socialise, it is essential that government advice is followed at this unprecedented time. abcMallorca has closed both its offices in Palma and will continue to work hard in bringing you up-to-date information on life here during this time. It is important that all holiday-makers planning to visit should check the official advice before travelling to Mallorca. The island is currently on lock-down and will be for the foreseeable future.
Read more about the coronavirus on Mallorca
The coronavirus is having a major impact on travel globally and Mallorca is no exception. Here is our advice about travelling here now. […] Is it safe to travel to Mallorca now?