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Formentera salutes essential service workers of island

foto 2020 Diada 3In official celebrations today for the Diada de Formentera (Formentera Day), the island honoured the efforts of workers who assured essential services during the state of emergency. The celebration, which historically sees the distribution of Medalla d’Or (Gold Medal) and Sant Jaume awards, was specially adapted for this most unique of years in light of the crisis stemming from covid-19.

The gathering took shape at Sant Francesc’s Plaça de la Constitució under the watch of Andreu Ferrer, who gave an overview of events since the start of the coronavirus crisis. A short video reminded the audience of confinement, a time when nearly all Formentera stayed home.

In an address to the crowd, Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer applauded the work of the island’s essential workers. “Today we pay public, official tribute to those who didn’t give up the fight — whether because they couldn’t, or simply because they chose not to. We pay tribute to those who kept us healthy and safe. Those who are still, lest we forget, fighting the fight against covid-19 each passing day”, said the President.

Ferrer underscored the sense of responsibility displayed by islanders, and pleaded with them to keep it up: “We can’t let our guard down. We mustn’t live in fear, but we’ve got to be respectful and responsible: the wellbeing of the individual bears upon the wellbeing of the collective”.

“This crisis has forced us to appreciate what we have, and it’s brought into focus our strengths. But let’s be honest, it also shed light on our blindspots and failings, revealed our increasingly fragile social harmony and laid bare the importance of diversification if we want stability and opportunities for all”. She pledged continued efforts from within government to reduce the toll of successive public health and economic crises on Formentera residents, and promised the Consell’s assistance to all those affected.

“This summer is going to be difficult and for many families winter might be even worse”, Ferrer conceded, “But we’re convinced that islanders will once again show their penchant for organisation and teamwork. That each one of us will continue doing their part for an island and a society that we believe in, where sustainability is key. A richer island, and one with more opportunities. An example of economic growth and universal protection for people. An example of an island where people watch out for each other and no one is left behind”.

Minute of silence
After speaking the President led a moment of silence in memory of all the victims claimed by the pandemic. Pianist and composer José Jaime Hidalgo led the celebration’s crowning moment, performing three pieces that evoked the purifying elements of wind, water and fire: Isaac Albéniz’s Granada, Ariel Ramírez’s Alfonsina y el mar and Manuel de Falla’s Danza Ritual.

Also in attendance were Balearic premiere Francina Armengol, presidential minister Pilar Costa, Formentera consellers and other figures of authority, not to mention representatives of essential service workers who were active during the pandemic. Public health standards required the event be kept to a limited capacity. The ceremony was broadcast live on the Consell de Formentera YouTube channel and is available here.

24 July 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Formentera firefighters train in outdoor rescue operations

foto 2020 formacio bombers 3The Formentera Department of Interior reports that the island’s fire crew has taken part in advanced training on outdoor rescue operations. Participants in the 25-hour course practised techniques in rescuing individuals from wells and cliffsides.

Interior conseller Josep Marí said classes, which took place during the first half of July, were geared towards familiarising the local fire department with leading-edge emergency rescue strategies.

Eight crew members successfully completed the course, which was led by Emergency Staff and cost the Consell €5,245.

21 July 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Safety —in public health, at sea and on the road— on the agenda as security council gathers

foto 2020 junta local seguretat 1The Formentera Junta Local de Seguretat (Local Security Council) convened earlier today for a session chaired by Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer and Balearic envoy Aina Calvo. Also on hand at the meeting were local head of central government affairs Enrique Sánchez Navarrete; chief of the national police force of Eivissa Manuel Hernández; Guardia Civil commander Enrique Gómez Bastida; local head of interior Josep Marí; social welfare chief and PSOE representative Rafael Ramírez; Gent per Formentera spokesman Bartomeu Escandell; Sa Unió spokesman Lorenzo Córdoba; director of the Balearic division of emergencies and interior Jaime Barceló; local police chief Félix Ramos, and chief Guardia Civil colonel in the Balearics Alejandro Hernández, among other authority figures. Some council members attended the session in person while others participated virtually.

At the encounter President Ferrer applauded the coordination of Formentera’s security forces and saluted their efforts in recent months to guarantee local health safety. Formentera officials impressed upon the regional and national figures in attendance the importance of continuing to coordinate with heads of security on the island — “the most familiar with the specific needs here on the ground”, stressed Ferrer.

Safety at sea and on the road
Another point of discussion at the gathering was the issue of maritime and highway safety. Four Guardia Civil agents have been dispatched to the island to assist in traffic patrols during the high season. Participants also learned that from 27 July, civil guard officers will bring the Río Segura to Formentera and Eivissa waters. The vessel has multiple auxiliary craft that President Ferrer pointed out would be used to patrol mooring on nearby beaches.

Irregular migration to Formentera also came up for discussion, and Junta members learned of protocol currently under development in light of covid-19.

Official visit
Before the security council gathering, Alejandra Ferrer and Aina Calvo sat for their first meeting of the term. The Balearic envoy welcomed “the Consell’s collaboration during the months-old pandemic” and applauded regular islanders for their patience and “for showing the way to the rest of the country throughout the phases of confinement de-escalation”. “Formentera was the focus of Spanish media attention”, said Calvo, “and you passed with flying colours thanks to the collaboration, patience and commitment of residents”.

17 July 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

New enforcement guidelines for covid-19 containment in islands

foto 2020 regulacio covidConsell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer met today with the Balearic minister of public administrations, Isabel Castro, to discuss safety measures to prevent the spread of covid-19 on Formentera. Other attendees of the gathering included environment and inspections conseller Antonio J Sanz and chief of interior Josep Marí.

In the words of Formentera’s premiere, the Govern’s new orders, which come against the backdrop of the pandemic and are meant to ensure compliance with hygiene, distancing, face covering and other safety measures, “are as crucial as the coordination that’s emerging between forces of security, inspectors, lifeguards, Civil Protection and other volunteers”.

Ferrer pledged cooperation at every level of government, and voiced fresh praise for the responsibility displayed by islanders and island businesses that rallied to stem the spread of covid-19 on the island. “Now we’re asking our visitors to be responsible too”, she said. “Please, take heed of educational campaigns that will be ongoing.”

Castro, for her part, detailed the new Balearic guidelines on infractions of public health rules aimed at containing the pandemic. The minister said the goal was to develop “a unified and coordinated approach to enable expedited processing and resolution of fines for non-compliance with covid-19 rules”. “What we can’t abide is that a handful of irresponsible individuals jeopardise the fruits of a collective effort”, she said.

Offences and fines are classed as minor, serious and very serious based on the nature and circumstances of a particular infraction. Citing officers will also take into account factors like whether an individual deliberately violated rules, caused disproportionate damage or risk to public health, how many people were affected, if there were benefits to the offence in question, whether it was the first time, (if the offender is a business) the establishment’s place in the local business community and the nature of the business and commercial activity. Minor offences carry fines of €100 to €3,000; serious offences fines of €3,001 to €60,000 and very serious offences fines between €60,001 and €600,000.

13 July 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

New campaign uses outreach and tracing to prevent local cases of covid-19

Foto 2020 turistes anticovidIn a morning press conference, Alejandra Ferrer and Josep Marí, the Consell de Formentera president and chief of interior, respectively, unveiled details about a push to educate tourists and remind islanders about simple steps to prevent the local spread of covid-19.

Ferrer said that Formentera residents’ responsibility during confinement and the subsequent loosening of lockdown measures was “key to the island’s gradual reopening to the outside world. Every day overnight accommodations and restaurants work to follow hygiene protocol and make distancing guidelines as pleasant as possible. This is why we ask that each one of our visitors take their part of personal responsibility; with your help, we can make Formentera a place everyone can continue to enjoy. Please, ‘Protect Formentera, for you and for everyone!’”

The slogan defines a campaign built around simple visual aids conceived to educate tourists and remind residents about the four basic rules this summer amid the public health crisis:

1. Individuals from different households must respect 1.5-metre physical distancing
2. Masks must be worn any time individuals from different households cannot respect safe 1.5-metre distancing
3. Wash or sanitise hands frequently
4. Groups must not exceed 25 individuals

In the president’s words, Formentera has, “by its very nature, always been a place where keeping a safe distance is easy: our 69 kilometres of coastline make it possible to get away from the crowds and find oneself, finding nature, peace and quiet at the same time. This year with the public health crisis, keeping one’s distance is more than just an option, it’s an imperative for each one of us”. To that end, the local office of tourism has announced a new section of its website where visitors can get information about all the island’s beaches and avoid the most crowded. Beachgoers will additionally find displays highlighting distancing and safety measures.

Another poster aims to remind shop visitors and public transport and ferry riders that masks are required in all three places. The graphic on general measures can be found at Consell displays across the island as well as restaurants and beaches. Hotel and business owners and anyone else can view and download the material at a section created especially for the campaign, www.formentera.es/covid. Forthcoming content will also include video reminders about rules, and can be seen in ferries and on the Consell’s social media pages.

Checks on compliance
With safe distancing more crucial now than ever before, the Consell de Formentera has created a network of collaborating informants to keep eyes on crowds this summer. “Security forces, parking attendants, coastal concession holders and business owners are working together to tackle unsafe crowding”, said interior conseller Josep Marí. Informants who see groups forming will call 092 and notify the authorities so the situation can be defused and order maintained. “We’re trying to prevent crowds before they form”, explained Marí.

As part of a data observatory, the Consell de Formentera has put up ten antennas in key points on the island like La Savina, Ses Illetes, Sant Francesc, Es Cap de Barbaria, Es Pujols, Sant Ferran, Migjorn and La Mola to track individual movements based on mobile phone signals. President Ferrer described the apparatus as “a digital tool originally commissioned to give us a picture of the visitor flows across the island”.

This summer, data processed by the towers will be used to strengthen control measures and prevent crowds. The information will be be used internally and shared with security forces to help coordinate efforts and reduce situations of risk. The collected information will be incorporated into a digital tool that flags crowding at distinct beaches and formulates recommendations for visitors. The info can be viewed on social media and on the tourist office website, www.formentera.es.

Local Security Junta
Conseller Marí said that efforts extended beyond covid-19 preventive measures to take aim at other possible security issues like illegal watercraft bound for Formentera, or respect for safety guidelines among enthusiasts of water sports tourism. To that end, Marí indicated the Consell had turned to the Harbour Master’s Office and Maritime Civil Guard for help making sure rules are followed. The Local Security Junta will gather in mid-July to discuss these and other issues related to local security.

2 July 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

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