Scenes of drunken British and German tourists in the Spanish island of Mallorca ignoring social distancing rules have raised fears of a resurgence of Covid-19 cases. Germany’s foreign minister condemned the rowdy tourists for imperilling hard-won gains in efforts to contain the virus.
Heiko Maas said: “We just recently managed to open the borders again in Europe. We cannot risk this by reckless behaviour. Otherwise, new measures will be inevitable.”
In a move designed to stop the spread of coronavirus and shake off the region’s reputation as a party hub, regional authorities in the Balearic Islands ordered the closure of all establishments along Mallorca’s “Beer St” and “Ham St” as the popular party areas near the beach of Palma de Mallorca are known, and on another boulevard in nearby Magaluf.
Bar owners reacted angrily to the new restrictions on the islands that have seen, like most regions in Spain, recent spikes in infections, none of which were traced to visiting tourists or party hot spots. Bars and nightclubs employ some 20,000 people in the region.
“They are undertaking drastic measures that are typical of other countries, closing entire streets and curtailing the free exercise of private initiative,” Jesus Sanchez, who leads a local business association told The Associated Press. He blamed “clandestine parties” for some of the images of tourists ignoring virus containment measures.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Florida reached another ominous record with 156 virus deaths reported on Thursday as the state continued to experience a swift rise in cases. The state’s Department of Health reported 13,965 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to nearly 316,000.
The Boy Scouts of America also announced it is postponing next year’s National Jamboree in West Virginia, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The increasing number of cases and the pandemic’s persistence and unpredictability made it impossible for the Boy Scouts to comply with its “Be Prepared” motto, according to an announcement on the organisation’s website.
And Brazil, which has exceeded 75,000 confirmed deaths is close to 2 million confirmed cases of the virus. The country has recorded more than 1,000 daily deaths on average in a plateau that has yet to tilt downwards.
At a solemn commemoration service in Madrid, relatives of around 100 Covid-19 victims sat socially distanced with representatives of health workers and other vital professions and with Spain’s king and queen to pay tribute to the dead and those fighting the pandemic.
In France, which has been seeing new outbreaks, Prime Minister Jean Castex said masks would be mandatory in closed public places as of next week – sooner than August 1 as previously announced. While stringent lockdown measures have slowed the spread of the virus across much of Europe, there are growing signs of second waves of infections, and the pandemic is still gathering pace elsewhere.
More than 13.5 million people have been infected worldwide and over 580,000 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers are thought to be far higher for a number of reasons, including limited testing.