Balearic Islands clamp down on booze sales, limit capacity at bars and restaurants to contain COVID-19 spread

Jul 7, 2021

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The addition of Spain’s Balearic Islands to the U.K.’s green list could be in jeopardy after a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, spurring island officials to extend — and in some cases, enact new — restrictions in the popular tourist destinations.

Spain’s popular tourist hotspots — including famed islands Mallorca and Ibiza — were added to the U.K.’s green list as of 30 June. Since then, more than 500 people have tested positive for COVID-19. More than 300 cases were reported on 3 July alone.

It’s gotten bad enough that tourism officials are cautioning visitors and residents to act responsibly, so as to not put the tourism industry — a key lifeline for the Balearics — at risk.

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“We need to exercise responsibility because we cannot put the tourist season, the viability of all the companies and jobs in danger,” Rafael Roig, president of Federation of Balearic Transport Companies, told The Independent.

In response, the Balearic government announced new rules limiting alcohol sales and ordered bars and restaurants to maintain capacity restrictions in Mallorca. Officials are concerned the influx of British visitors could lead to a further resurgence of COVID-19 cases as people take in the atmosphere and indulge in the famed nightlife.

“Once tourism begins in a significant way, we believe that we have to carry out a prudent de-escalation in this regard and therefore make the same restrictions in some areas as others,” Iago Negueruela, the Minister of Tourism and Labour for the islands told The Sun.

Bars and restaurants will be able to have a maximum of 100 people sitting indoors and 200 people outside. Inside tables will be limited to six people. Those restrictions were already being applied in the Arenal de Palma and Llucmajor areas of Mallorca, and the results there inspired authorities to enact the rules in Sant Antoni de Portmany and Magaluf.

Bars and restaurants in these areas are ordered to close by 2 a.m. until further notice.

Some of the rules are carryovers from the pandemic’s lockdown, such as the prohibition of alcohol sales in shops between 9:30 p.m. and 10 a.m.

Local business leaders in the tourist-dependent areas are worried the restrictions will have severe consequences for an industry still reeling from the impact of the pandemic. But government officials say it would be even worse if COVID cases keep rising and the islands are bumped back down to the U.K.’s amber list, with its tighter restrictions. Being on the green list allows U.K. holidaymakers to return without having to quarantine, a huge incentive for travellers.

The next review of the U.K.’s traffic light system is due on 15 July.

Featured photo by Manchan/Getty Images.

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