Discord over Summer Measures

Today begins the battle between the Central Government and rebel regional ones concerning restrictions of night-life activity this summer.

SPN Minister of Health Central Government DariaThe Ministry of Public Health decided to turn a recommendation into a direct order by publishing restriction measures in the BOE (official state gazette).

The measure had been approved on Wednesday during a meeting between the national Ministry of Public Health and their regional  counterparts, but the decision reached was not unanimous. In fact, six autonomic regions voted against, including Madrid and Andalucía. However, a simple majority carried the day.

The trouble is that both these regions, together with the other six, represent two thirds of the population of Spain so, if they refuse to impose limits on night-life activity, then the whole point of the restrictions becomes ineffective, which is why the Central Government decided to put it down in black and white in the BOE – it gives it a legal basis to take rebellious regions to court.

The Minister of Public health, Carolina Darias, took 48 hours to come to the decision to make it official; 48 hours during which she probably considered withdrawing the controversial measures. However, they were ‘set in stone’ and will have to be imposed.

So what are they? During the coming weeks, from one end of Spain to the other, bars and restaurants will be forbidden to accept customers after midnight, making proprietors stack up their tables and chairs by 01.00h and make night clubs and discotheques close by 03.00h.

Worst of all, in any town where the contagion rate is over 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, interior spaces will have to be closed to customers.

The Central Government intents to maintain this system in force until Spain reaches herd immunity at 70%, which translates into 33 million persons with both inoculations administered, which will be achieved by mid August, if things go according to plan.

The autonomous regions that voted against or abstained were: Madrid, Galicia, Andalucía, Murcia, Cataluña, Castilla y León, Basque Lands and Melilla. The ones that voted against are virtually all ruled by the conservative opposition party, the PP. In fact, Madrid, has often been used as a political battering ram against the Central Government under the controversial PP leader, Isabel Díaz Ayuso. However, Cataluña is controlled by a independentist coalition. The Basque Lands didn’t vote against but merely abstained.

So, this is a political battle between conservative-led regional governments, including our own, and a socialist Central Government.

Having said that, it should be remembered that Andalucía desperately needs tourism whereas Castilla-La Mancha, for instance, does not. Night life in Andalucía is crucial for the tourism season because young people on the Costa Tropical, for instance, don’t even go out at night until one in the morning, so any nightclub or disco could never hope to survive, economically speaking on being open only two hours a night.

So, this whole rebellion is political and economic and has little to do with public health, unfortunately. Can Andalucía survive another summer on half gas? By mid August, we’re just weeks away from kids going back to school. But what if the measures are ignored and contagion figures soar? Then we can kiss goodbye to all of summer and not just up to mid August.

Looking at today’s contagion figures we see that Almuñécar has a contagion rate of 88,7, Motril has 201,8 and Salobreña has 127,9. meaning that Motril would have to shut down its night-life sector but the other two would be OK. The problem is, of course, that each weekend brings more visitors and contagion rates will rise.

The biggest controversial point is that under the whole system you had to have 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants to have your hostelry sector closed whereas under the new system, with just over 150 the tourism sector takes a hammering thanks to the new restrictions.

Many feel that the Central Government has lost the plot, so to speak, but hasn’t backed down because of the political loss of face before the conservative rebels.

The underlying problem during the whole of the pandemic has been that there is no central committee of health experts, void of political or market-forces interference. If there were such a body, outside the control of the Central Government, then nobody, not even the opposition parties, could argue against the decisions that it hands down.

(News: Spain)

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