Rise Of Covid19 Infection Rates in Ibiza
After months of Chinese Water Torture, the curtain has finally come down on the Ibiza 2020 season after strict new Health and Saftey regulations were introduced by the Balearic Government in Palma this week. They effectively make it impossible for people to enjoy a fun holiday in Ibiza, which in turn makes any business associated with the mass tourism trade redundant. The new laws were greeted with shock and anger by the usual suspects, with one island wag commenting, “The levels of control are such that only an Amish stag night would find the environment satisfactory”.
As the seasons death knell sounded across the island like a traditional Ibicenco UC, an ancient cry that warned islanders of impending attack, airline and package holiday companies like Jet 2 and TUI reacted by suspending the rest of their season which cased heartache and disappointment for thousands of holidaymakers hoping for a summer holiday in the sun. So where did it all go Pete Tong?
Well it all started way back in March, when Palma agreed to grant special permission to German and Dutch nationals to visit the island during the lockdown period, as these two nationalities own a lot of property and holiday homes on the island. On top of that, many wealthy refugees fleeing the Covid infested city of Madrid took refuge in their holiday homes on the island, a popular holiday destination for well heeled Gatos. Then came the illegal villa parties, organised for profit by those only interested in making a quick buck rather than the health and safety of the community around them.
This ensured even more people arrived on the island to party, which we now know are fertile breeding grounds for Covid19 transmission as the viral charge is high and people are less inhibited due to alcohol and drug consumption.. As one local Nurse put it; Covid likes to Party. Health experts are now claiming that over 80% of the Covid 19 outbreaks are linked to home or villa outbreaks especially during family gatherings, hence the new law banning the congregation of more than 10 people in one house.
Behind the health and safety screen, there was another battle going on between two sectors of Ibiza society: the non national business groups and the Ibicenco companies owned by local businessmen.
They adopted a cautious approach from the start of the crisis, keeping their venues closed as they knew the macro environment around them was altering daily and they could not afford to have their brand or business damaged by a Covid19 outbreak – the logistics and cost associated was not worth opening.
They were not pleased to see so many foreigners arrive on the island as it impacted on their brands and used all their considerable contacts to project a view that the island was not fully open for business and any tourists arriving were doing so without any respect for local culture or health advice.
did trying to rescue that economy lead to the worsening of the situation?
Cue headlines in the National and local press, which denounced any gatherings where people seemed to be having fun. The right wing local newspaper Diario de Ibiza came in for particular criticism for what anti-mask and Covid19 conspiracy people called “daily propaganda” which they felt was focussing on the negative all the time – in fact the newspaper was only reporting the news, but those in denial will attack anyone who does not agree with their viewpoint.
They called for a boycott of the newspaper asking people to unfollow them and as usual everybody was to blame but themselves. These were the very same people supporting the “Ibiza is Happening” movement, what some commentators labelled a conservative led political campaign to discredit the socialists in Palma for what they saw as an attack on their precious economy. While the conservatives were causing mayhem in San Antonio, on the other side of the island it was a different matter as they were as good as gold following Government advice.
But did trying to rescue that economy lead to the worsening of the situation we are witnessing on the island today? Many will argue it did, especially when one of the main drivers of that movement had an outbreak on their premises
the same time the UK introduced a sudden 14 day quarantine on all tourists returning from Spain, rumours started to circulate that many people were testing positive for the virus
While all this distraction and drama was going on politically, behind the scenes the underground was partying away, some discreetly, others less so. More and more people were gathering in private houses, many of them asymptomatic to the virus, but spreading it to others unknowingly as Ibiza was not testing for Covid19, allowing thousands of tourists to come and go as they pleased under the impression that the island was a low risk region of Spain.
People have to remember that there is only one public hospital at Can Misses, which could accommodate 16 ICU beds. Ventilators were impossible to source and Ibiza was well down the line in orders for extra units. So roughly around the end of July, the same time the UK introduced a sudden 14 day quarantine on all tourists returning from Spain, rumours started to circulate that many people were testing positive for the virus due to the popularity of house parties, taking place in the absence of clubs and bars opening.
Fast forward a month and “new figures” report large spikes in infection rates. Worst areas affected are Sant Jordi with 3.84 new cases per 1000 inhabitants, followed closely by Sant Joseph with 3.57 new cases. The best performing towns were Santa Eularia, Sant Juan and Formentera with the lowest rates of 1.31 on average. On August 27, the Spanish Ministry Of Health announced that the 14 day infection rate for the Balearic islands had jumped to an alarming 261.78 per 100,000, nearly three times higher than the UK.
The positive news behind those figures was the zero death and ICU admission rates, so maybe the herd immunity theory is working. While announcing the figures, the Balearic Government in Palma blamed local residents for the spikes, which did not go down well with the Ibicencos. What Palma may have been trying to point out was that Ibiza has been running with the fox and chasing with the hounds, by projecting mixed messages about its tourist season- allowing certain people freedoms, while suffocating others.
Allowing tourists into the island from Germany and Holland during the Lockdown was with hindsight, a serious error in judgement from a normally cautious and health minded Balearic administration.
So right now the island is worried. Its “low risk” status has gone out the window like a bag of weed at a Guardia Civil checkpoint. The needy and the greedy are still promoting the false narrative that there is nothing to see here, all is ok, but the more honest brokers are now closing up shop knowing that it’s game over on the Ibiza 2020 season, as the antelope are not returning to the grazing plains.
The Government has limited the number of people that can congregate together to 10, severely restricting the villa rental party market which it was designed to do. There are reports that tourists are testing positive for Covid 19 when returning from Ibiza, so my advice would be to very diligently keep an eye on the evolving health situation on the island before travelling.
I hope to make it to the island in September so my fingers are crossed that the current spike in infections will be contained soon and that the infection rates will receed once the busy August season is over. The blog will update with any news of note and our Twitter account will carry any local news with regard to figures.
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