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As island prepares for returning visitors, Formentera calls for new normality to include public health controls and tracing protocol

foto 2020 visita armengolWhen Consell de Formentera president and deputy president Alejandra Ferrer and Ana Juan sat down this afternoon with Francina Armengol, the Balearic first minister, and Pilar Costa, the chief of the first minister’s office, it marked the first in-person encounter between the two administrations since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

Ferrer praised Armengol for the coordination between the Consell and Govern in recent months, and expressed her will to see such cooperation continue beyond lockdown de-escalation, which is set to conclude next week. “Emergency orders will be lifted on Sunday 21 June, but that doesn’t mean the crisis is over”, said Ferrer, who underscored the need for contingency planning with regard to the families and companions of infected tourists: “In our new normality we’ll need to maintain controls on public health and establish tracing protocol in the event that new cases emerge with arriving visitors”.

Ferrer also voiced concerns about domestic and international flight connections, and about the ongoing absence of Europe-wide safety protocol, which she described as “a missed opportunity for a united message”. As for furloughs announced in the midst of the crisis, Ferrer asked for Armengol’s backing in discussions with the central government: “Considering our economy is based exclusively on tourism, and given the short season in 2020, business owners and workers on the island will need help weathering the winter ahead”.

Ferrer additionally highlighted the potential for new opportunities that crises can afford, and suggested that the current juncture may hold out the opportunity for forward strides in terms of sustainability, solidarity and economic diversification, particularly as the island attempts to move away from a summer-centred tourism. “This crisis has laid bare the weakness of Formentera’s highly seasonal economy and the vulnerability that a large swath of our population faces”, Ferrer offered. “We have to realise that a diversified economy will make us more balanced and improve the quality of life for the people who need it most.”

For her part, the Balearic premiere offered a public show of thanks for the efforts of islanders and local government during a loosening of lockdown measures that saw Formentera, thanks to favourable public health figures, enter de-escalation one week ahead of the rest of the archipelago and Spain. “We are well aware that the economic situation is going to be very complicated”, Armengol added.

The premiere pointed out that the number of Formentera families receiving minimum social income (RESOGA) has jumped from 38 pre-coronavirus to 442 today. As well, she highlighted assistance of between €2,000 and €3,000 for self-employed individuals, including €250,000 from the Consell de Formentera, as well as €100,000 that the local government has put up in support of businesses and micro-businesses benefitting from ISBA loans.

Ferrer and Armengol asked islanders and visiting tourists to remain vigilant in terms of safety measures designed to prevent the local spread of Covid-19.

17 June 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Consell de Formentera announces numerous offices reopening to public

Multiple arms of the Consell de Formentera have once again opened to the public for appointments:

- The Formentera Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishing (Àrea d’Agricultura, Ramaderia i Pesca) is reopening for public visits

From today (Monday 8 June), the agriculture, livestock and fishing office, located at Centre Antoni Tur ‘Gabrielet’ on Avinguda de Porto-salè, reopens to the public. Hours are 10.00am to 1.00pm, Monday to Friday, by appointment. Visits must be scheduled 24 hours in advance by calling 971 32 10 87.

- The Formentera Department of Education and Culture (Àrea d’Educació i Cultura) has reopened to the public as well

The offices at Carrer de Mallorca, nº17, in Sant Ferran, are again accepting visits by appointment. Hours are 9.00am to 2.00pm, Monday to Friday. Visits must be scheduled 24 hours in advance by calling 971 32 10 87.

- The Formentera Department of Environment (Àrea de Medi Ambient) has resumed in-person appointments

The offices at Carrer de Mallorca, nº15, in Sant Ferran are again accepting visits by appointment. Hours are 9.00am to 2.00pm, Monday to Friday. Visits must be scheduled 24 hours in advance by emailing mediambient@conselldeformentera.cat.

Preventive, hygiene and disinfection protocol must be respected in each department. Visitors are asked to wear a mask, and hydroalcoholic hand sanitiser will be provided at the door.

8 June 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Consell de Formentera holds moment of silence

foto 2020 minut silenci 2With the ten-day period of national mourning set to conclude tomorrow, a minute of silence was observed on the front steps of the Consell de Formentera’s casa consistorial to commemorate the lives claimed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Consell president Alejandra Ferrer was joined in the show of condolence by the rest of the local cabinet, opposition members and administration staff.

5 June 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Formentera relaunches 2020 marketing efforts with video for dearly missed visitors

foto 2020 reinici turismeThe Formentera Department of Tourism reports that the office’s official social media account, @visitformentera, has unveiled a video in which the island tells visitors “I miss you”.

With the page turned on a period of internal confinement when Formentera was closed to outside visitors, department manager Carlos Bernús said the island was today waiting to get the go-ahead to reopen first to fellow islanders from Eivissa and the rest of the Balearics and then, if all goes well, to domestic and international travel. Bernús pointed to “targeted online pushes to entice those visitors” and said work was under way to ensure that both visiting tourists and locals can enjoy a summer “with the highest level of safety guarantees”.

Similar campaigns have sprung from collaboration between the tourism office and tour operators like SOLTOUR and Logitravel, while other efforts have involved mailing promotional inserts to domestic audiences and meeting with travel agents and journalists.

30 May 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Formentera adopts new economic measures to help islanders weather Covid-19’s economic and social fallout

foto v2020 pleMembers of the Consell de Formentera rendezvoused today for the island’s full-house assembly for the month of May, hewing to an online format to comply with coronavirus safety and distancing protocol. Following the digital hosting of a 15 May one-off plenary session, today’s gathering marked the very first web-based celebration of an ordinary plenary session.

Attendees reviewed the third packet of economic and fiscal measures designed, in the words of economy and tax office chief Bartomeu Escandell, “to reduce the economic and social fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic”. Assembly members formed a united voice in support of the first six measures of the packet, which included rebates and extensions on fee payments.

Assembly members adopted a measure to reimburse 50% of fees paid to the school of music and dance, summer school and nurseries, not to mention fees to use municipal facilities and host sports activities, and islanders who benefit are not excluded from additional assistance covering up to 75% of total costs. “Now is when the public sector must step in to minimise the hardships islanders are facing under the current crisis”, said Escandell. “These benefits are designed to make sure no one is left behind.”

The help is directed at self-employed individuals or “autonomous workers” whose invoices have shrunk by more than half compared to 2019 or who are otherwise affected by the crisis. Unemployed islanders can also apply, together with furloughed individuals and those who receive either the guaranteed social income or similar benefits.

Support for the primary sector
Attendees of the plenary also placed a temporary hold on fees at the abattoir. Escandell described the assistance as “a continuation of Formentera’s long-standing support for the primary sector, and another instance of encouraging islanders to buy and consume local”. The economy conseller also pointed out that the Consell has pledged €130,000 to the local agricultural co-operative, €37,000 to the livestock farmers association and €15,000 to the fishermen’s guild in 2020.

Cross-party support was likewise secured for a move to do away with fees for Balearic visitors to La Mola’s lighthouse in 2020 (last year only formenterers accessed the site for free). “The lighthouse remodel gave us both a cultural venue and an interpretive centre offering islanders the chance to discover the sea”, said Escandell. “In view of exceptional circumstances, we’re extending that chance to our neighbours across the Balearics”.

Rollover surplus
The GxF-PSOE cabinet joined forces with opposition group Sa Unió to support a measure urging Madrid to let city, island and provincial councils use 100% of their 2019 surplus. Escandell pointed out that, as the Consell continues to close out last year’s accounts, a new upward revision in the surplus from an earlier estimated one million euros to €1.5 million today “could, if legislative restrictions are loosened in this time of great need, go toward helping the people of the island”. As of today, the Consell is authorised to spend €300,000, or 20%, of its surplus.

More economic measures
Assembly members gave an additional thumbs-up to a measure, brought by Sa Unió and brokered by the GxF-PSOE cabinet, encouraging local government to study an array of issues, like a line of renters’ assistance for families, freelancers and small businesses; assistance for individuals studying off the island, as well as supplements to national and regional assistance to cover costs for students who stay here; applicability in 2020 of the fee for the permit allowing motorists to bring, operate and park vehicles on the island, and applicability in 2020 of the fee to access Ses Salines nature reserve. The Consell is also encouraged to debate, agree on and define related measures in line with its available budget.

Furloughed workers
A united front of support also came for an urgent proposal concerning furlough agreements (ERTO in Catalan and ERTE in Castilian Spanish). By pushing the central government to extend furloughs beyond 30 June, the measure aims to minimise the pandemic’s toll on the unfolding tourism season, providing relief to productive sector businesses whose staffing needs involve permanent seasonal contracts.

According to the economy and tax office chief, “the request means urging Madrid to maintain full exemption from Social Security payments, at least until some normality has resumed, for non-returning employees even in the event of a partial return of furloughed workers”. Finally, Formentera urges the executive branch to set up a system so businesses with furloughs due to force majeure can opt to maintain that status if a partial furlough is unviable—not based on ministerial orders concerning permitted types of business activity, but because reopening is hampered de facto by an absence of tourism.

Coastal licences
With “yes” votes from the governing cabinet and “no” votes from the opposition, approval came for a proposal to study the legal viability of reducing, commensurate to the duration of emergency orders, the fees collected from license-holders of beach concessions under the use regime of Land and Sea Public Spaces. Environment chief Antonio J Sanz described the move as “creating the legal framework to apply a discount that we consider necessary”. Based on estimates, concessions-holders should benefit from a 32.17% reduction in the fee they pay to the Formentera government.

Another measure that passed with “yes” votes from the cabinet and “no” votes from the opposition was a request that the regional health ministry put measures in place to set up a base for 061 emergency phone service at the Formentera Hospital. The authors of the proposal insist the move be coordinated with the reopening of borders and separation needs of patients who display respiratory symptoms. “Our 061 needs extend beyond summertime and beyond temporary reinforcements”, said social welfare conseller Rafael Ramírez, “the service is critical to giving patients proper care. Differentiated 061 service would allow our hospital to differentiate care in possible Covid-19 cases.” The proposal states, “If our hospital sees a return to the level of activity seen in 2016, extra staff are necessary, with or without additional 061 service”.

Plenary attendees also heard about the decision by members of Sa Unió (PP-Compromís) to donate 20% of compensation accrued during the state of emergency to Formenterers Solidaris. Members of the group said the money should go toward “making sure the NGO’s work continues”.

29 May 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

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