West End Fights Back. Image Diario de Ibiza.

Sant Antonio Mayor, Marcos Serra, and the West End Association have both hit back at what they say is arbitrary and unfair discrimination by the Balearic Government in preventing businesses in the popular tourist area of the West End in San Antonio opening, when identical businesses elsewhere on the island are able to open for business. 

Both the Mayor and the Association say that there has been no reasonable reason given as to why these businesses should be treated differently. 

New Ordinance

The reaction came following a new ordinance by the Balearic government as part of a series of regulations governing the re-opening of businesses in the tourist sector in light of Covid-19 return to normality. 

The regulations permit party venues to re-open subject to special restrictions including that they must not have any dancing, aside from ‘seated dancing’ that would be from tables and chairs used to fill any existing dancefloors. 

Special Case

The West End, and two areas in Mallorca, were given a special status earlier in the year as part of the Balearic Government’s efforts to curb what it considers ‘tourism of excess’. This was prior to and completely unconnected to the Covid-19 crisis. However, the powers that be in Palma have used that status to exclude the West End from being allowed to re-open on the grounds of what it terms ‘health security’. 

Mayor Serra

Speaking following the announcement mayor Serra spoke of his surprise at the announcement. “If it is justified that it is for sanitary reasons and avoiding infections, fine. But, I do not see it. No one has given any satisfactory explanation as to why this distinction is made and what the health incidence is” said Mayor Serra, who has a record of continuing his predecessors tough stance against the West End since taking power.

Despite the West End having no reason to expect his support automatically, Mayor Serra said he cannot see how the West End ban can be justified. “Distinctions of this kind are not fair. We are all against the so called tourism of excess” he said ” but I do not think you can take advantage of this situation to make a difference in this way”.

Asociación Empresarios West End

The Asociación Empresarios West End reacted with a similarly reasoned response, stating that they would accept different conditions to other businesses if it could be shown why they posed any greater health risk to other leisure businesses, but in absence of any information whatsoever detailing why their businesses are any different, they could not accept that the limitation was fairly imposed. 

The association represents many of the well known venues in the West End. Among their membership are Jose Tur, President (Twist), Pepe Colomar (Bar Colon), Salvador Salínero (Salva) and Marga Boned (Tropicana). 

They have issued a statement calling upon “support from all island administrations to intervene before the Balearic Government in order to correct this senseless injustice”. Meanwhile Mayor Serra has a meeting planned with the general director of Tourism, Rosa Morillo, to explain his concerns. 

We publish below, with kind permission, the full statement of the Asociación Empresarios West End. This is a primarily machine translation – but we are sure readers will get the full gist despite its grammatical inaccuracies. 

Statement

The pandemic that befell COVID19 has taken command of our lives and our businesses. We are all suffering the consequences, but we must be responsible to win this battle and in solidarity with all those on the front lines.

The Balearic Government has taken the reins on how to recover the new normality with health guarantees for society. The Government is fully aware that tourism is the real engine of the economy of the Balearic Islands and Sant Antoni in particular, and it has adopted a measure on which we express our strongest opposition.

Such a measure prohibits the opening of any “nightlife” premises in the area of the West End and most of the town of Sant Antoni, but authorizes the opening of establishments with the same features located almost anywhere else in our Autonomous Community.

Nor do we understand the difference perceived by the Balearic Government between nightlife and daytime but this is another debate which, without doubt, we will have to face sooner rather than later.

There are many questions and unknowns that arise from this measure that lead us to an absurd and distressing situation.

What objective reasons does the Balearic Government decide that Sant Antoni is not sanitary?

What difference does the Balearic Government see between two premises, located in different enclaves of the islands if both meet the health requirements that this same Government has established?

The premises of the West End of Sant Antoni are ready to comply accurately and strictly with prevention standards established for nightlife venues.

Is the so-called Law against the tourism of excesses the argument of the Balearic Government? What does this Law have to do with the health emergency we are experiencing? Institutions at the service of citizenship should not confuse health and protection measures through political and arbitrary measures.

Does anyone in their right mind believe that the streets will be filled to the point to become a health issue in this mini season summer 2020? I wish they would be, it would be a good sign! And if they were, they could be assured that we would all work proactively on control measures because no citizen, worker or employer wants this situation to be prolonged or to have to go backwards due to a new spike in contagions.

We have accepted and supported all the measures adopted in relation to the situation we are currently experiencing worldwide, if this measure obeyed reasons of a sanitary nature we would understand it, we would accept and we would certainly support it.

It is unfair, unsupportive and immoral that, for reasons that have nothing to do with health security, in a moment of economic crisis like the current one, the ruin is condemned to more than two hundred and fifty families of workers and small business entrepreneurs for a purely political decision.

Probably in winter some of these families will be queuing for help from Social services or in front of a charity to help put food on their table or pay their rent/mortgage.

Discrimination in any part of the island would be justified if it was backed up with a health reason that supports it, the Balearic Government has been unable to argue, hence there is no reason to support this prohibition, we feel discriminated against and feel completely helpless.

We request support from all island administrations to intervene before the Balearic Government in order to correct this senseless injustice.