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President Alejandra Ferrer addresses islanders via livestream

foto compareix 2020 covid 1Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer discussed recent developments surrounding the coronavirus crisis in press conference today, streaming the event on the local government’s YouTube channel. As the event wound down, Ferrer took questions from journalists and islanders, the former sending queries to the Department of Citizen Participation’s WhatsApp account.

First, on behalf of the local cabinet and members of the opposition party, President Ferrer offered condolences to families who have lost loved ones to Covid-19. And she also highlighted some good news, updating islanders on the improved condition of a Formentera man who is now in a ward at Can Misses, along with the other pair of infected Formentera residents, after spending two weeks in the ICU.

“Unfortunately not all endings are happy, and while new infections may be down, the numbers and total death toll are still alarming”, said Ferrer, who insisted the present moment was “no time to let our guard down”, pointing to previsions of the devastating effects of a renewed spike in cases and imploring with islanders to “stay at home as long as possible”.

Ferrer tempered her comments by telling islanders, “We know just how many of you—employees of businesses classified as ‘non-essential’—have been called back to work. Our administration pleaded to have the emergency orders remain in effect, because this is still a health crisis. We also launched a separate appeal so all those unable to return to work could be officially furloughed”.

“The request was unsuccessful, so today our message to you is this: if you must return to work, follow safety and hygiene measures and continue personal distancing. The idea as we fight this global pandemic is to keep transmissions to a minimum”.

Social safety net
Efforts within the local government are now focused on tending to cases of social urgency, which explains why the administration is helping those most at risk during the Covid-19 pandemic by diverting some €200,000 —a full 20% of Formentera’s 2019 budgetary surplus and the maximum allowed by law— to the FDSW. “We’re working on directing the remaining €800,000 to responding to this emergency”, said Ferrer, who indicated that Formentera and other local administrations had already articulated that very request.

With a caseload currently standing at 750, the FDSW has reported on a 166-point uptick in food voucher claims (as of today the total number is 383) and nearly 200 applicants for “guaranteed social income” (renda social garantida). “Our island government is doing absolutely everything we can to offer support those in need”, said the president, holding up the recent creation of a new help service for seniors.

Channels of communication
According to Ferrer, another part of the work involves strengthening channels of communication. She pointed to a ramping up of the Consell’s morning and afternoon switchboard service — a change which was geared towards expanding the reach of assistance and information to ensure everyone in need could benefit. The last month has seen FDSW extend its services in order to accommodate current demand. A new help service enables the department to check in with local seniors via telephone and keep tabs on over 300 individuals back on the island since the state of alarm was invoked. Improvements can also be observed at the Citizen’s Information Office (OAC), with the bureau’s virtual arm, the OVAC, reporting a full 100% of services are now online. “Meanwhile, local associations are receiving regular updates from our Department of Citizen Participation”, noted Ferrer.

Continued confinement
“We’ve said it before and we repeat it today: your enormous efforts aren’t going unnoticed”, Ferrer told islanders as she confirmed the extension of confinement and social distancing orders alike. “And islanders aren’t the only ones who’ve shut themselves off; Formentera has too. We asked as the crisis began for ferry connections to be brought down to the minimum needed for healthcare services and goods. Since 19 March our port handles three daily arrivals and departures, and that’s how it will stay until at least 26 April”, she said, referring to the predicted end of emergency orders, “though we’ve already been told of possible extensions”.

An average of 19 individuals arrived on the island over the last week, while the week prior to the freeze on non-essential activity saw an average of 50 passengers disembarking every day. “Avoiding this flow was one of the main reasons we urged Madrid to keep non-essential enterprises on hold”, said Ferrer. Construction is one area that does fall under the local government’s remit, and

The Consell has blocked the return of crews to public works upgrades in Sant Ferran and delayed the scheduled start of activity on the old people’s home, though the administration has indicated it will review lifting the moratorium next week if contractors can ensure compliance with safety protocol.

Studying Covid-19 immunity
The percent of coronavirus cases where patients displayed few symptoms or none at all is a data point that will make it possible for calculations to be made about local rates immunity and transmission — crucial for local officials to take decisions accordingly. Ferrer has urged the regional government to see to it that any immunology study account for the unique characteristics of Formentera.

Economic emergency
“To date, talk has focused on the health and social sides of the emergency, but the economic emergency isn’t far off”, said Ferrer, “indeed, for some of us, it’s already here. It’s an immensely concerning issue. If we want prosperity, we need social and environmental stability, but we need economic stability, too”.

“Yesterday we were told that the tourist season would start in August, but the truth is that previsions are impossible. Our economy is based almost exclusively on tourism, and the islands must form a united front as we ask the central government to step up now and provide what we contributed during our years of plenty. The Balearic region needs a bespoke strategy, and it must take special account of the particularities of Formentera. And likewise, Formentera will need to ask the region for a special Formentera-specific strategy that accounts for the heavily seasonal nature of our economy, low employment in the winter months and the fragility of the tourism industry”.

Formentera has asked the Govern balear for island-specific previsions so the island can offer tailor-made solutions to every issue. Ferrer said its petition included “targeted measures for the tourism industry, because we believe it will be the slowest in getting back on its feet” and “economic assistance for employees and employers that specifically takes into account the island’s heavily seasonal economy”.

Promoting tourism
According to the also chief of tourism, “we’re working with local businesses on a shock plan for tourism that takes into account the breadth of possible scenarios for the start of the tourist season. We need to be certain that both the Consell and private sector are prepared to hit the ground running promoting Formentera as a safe and close destination to travellers—whether they come from elsewhere in the Balearics, mainland Spain and, perhaps, the rest of the world”.

Children and youth
Ferrer directed the final part of her message at young people. “We know just how eager small children and teens are to get out of the house,” she said. “And they deserve to be able to. Unfortunately, emergency orders still in place mean that’s not possible. We’ve asked the authorities to consider the possibility of a relaxation of directives in that regard now that the figures offer reasons to be optimistic”.

To see the entire address, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WX0Vb8TyXbg.

14 April 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

51 islanders ticketed for breaking rules of confinement

foto iv2020 drons3The Formentera Department of Interior reports that since the state of alarm was invoked, local law enforcement have written 51 citations to islanders who failed to comply with confinement orders, namely, by leaving home for activities not allowed under the emergency decree.

Last Friday, Formentera Local Police began using a drone to assist in patrols of the island, issuing fifteen tickets by the end of the weekend. According to Department of Interior chief Josep Marí, “most of the violators were located thanks to the drone, which affords a much wider visual scope than is usually possible in many parts of the island. Ground surveillance here can be quite tricky”.

In randomly selected areas of the island, the aircraft supports the police department’s normal surveillance operations by performing aerial sweeps of randomly selected areas of the island—flights that will continue as long as the state of alarm remains in force. A citation cannot be issued based on drone-captured images alone, rather, the location of possible offenders must first be determined and agents can issue a ticket once on the scene.

Drone operations, just one part of the island police force’s control measures in towns and on local roads, are meant to dissuade Formentera residents from violating the rules.

7 April 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Consell launches online portal so islanders can follow Antoni Blanc fitness centre’s guided activities

The Formentera Department of Sports has unveiled a virtual access point so users of municipal fitness centre Poliesportiu Antoni Blanc can continue taking part in some of the classes they attended before confinement measures took effect.

Dubbed ‘Sports at home on Formentera’ (Esports a casa a Formentera), the YouTube channel launched today. Three classes are scheduled for the first week, 6–13 April—two in functional training and one designed to help participants build joint flexibility and strengthen their core.

Classes are exclusively for individuals who signed up before lockdown. Participants will receive a link once a week allowing them to connect and see videos.

Department chief Paula Ferrer encourages fitness centre users and islanders alike to take a bit of exercise these days to maintain healthy habits.

Esports a casa a Formentera is just one fitness activity on offer—others, like pilates and zumba, can be found on the ‘Formentera es queda a casa’ site on Facebook.

6 April 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Formentera asks for freeze on non-essential activity to continue until at least 26 April

On behalf of the local cabinet, Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer will petition Govern balear premier Francina Armengol to hold off on reactivating non-essential sectors of the economy at least until 26 April. Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez announced this weekend that non-essential businesses such as construction firms could return to work on Monday 13 April.

“The Balearic chief executive made a similar request of the central government yesterday, and this is a way to offer backing in that regard”, President Ferrer said. “To lift part of the confinement measures could be dangerous for Formentera, particularly because we have some workers in non-essential sectors who travel to get here, and that poses an added risk.”

Ferrer also offered that firms in non-essential sectors could file for temporary layoff, or ERTO, status—a route taken by businesses forced to close when confinement began. “For many of these business owners asked to assume the economic costs of the two-week freeze, it’s unsustainable”, said the president, “and we’ll need to help them if this goes on much longer, just like we did with the others”.

Infrastructure for isolation
The president pointed out that hotel owners and the local tourism industry made lodgings available for health emergencies, like individuals with possibly mild cases called on to self-isolate from their families. “Thanks to the gesture by the hospitality and tourism sectors, people asked to self-isolate can do just that”, she said.

Ferrer added that such rooms could also help prevent the local spread of Covid-19 by devoting them to asymptomatic patients. “When we receive the tests Madrid says it is sending to the autonomous regions, we’ll see whether they’re effective detecting mild or asymptomatic cases. If they are, we’ll be able to adopt more preventive isolation measures.”

6 April 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Sanitising operations at La Savina port

foto 2020 exercit estacio maritima4A ground army team of basic-level sappers and agents specialised in disinfection from the Balearic Islands General Command veterinary unit began sanitising operations at La Savina port after arriving by boat this morning. Efforts centred on the harbour, the two embarkment areas and the passenger wharfs, that is, the piers and a wharf devoted to sea travel.

Unit chief Xisco Garcia Fluxà explained that the men would take the full day and concentrate on “areas of likely coronavirus contamination”, saying the process would require water and bleach solutions applied with sprayers and vapour applicators.

The efforts are part of an operation called ‘Balmis’ being implemented by the central government in response to Covid-19. The operation will send more than 2,500 agents from the Military Emergencies Unit, Royal Guard and three armed forces to 172 towns across Spain.

4 April 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

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