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Alejandra Ferrer addresses islanders about first phase of lockdown easing

Sandra compareixenca 2Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer gave a press conference and open address to the people of the island to announce activation of the first phase in Formentera’s gradual easing of confinement measures. The broadcast was retransmitted on the Consell’s YouTube channel here and listeners were able to tune in to Ràdio Illa to hear Ferrer’s discourse live.

The president dedicated her message to the victims of the grave public health crisis as well as their families, and reserved special words for the family of the island’s only coronavirus-related death.

Ferrer applauded islanders’ sense of individual and collective responsibility, which she said was behind the State’s decision to begin phase one of Formentera’s de-escalation this Monday, 4 May. “It’s been a very difficult few weeks”, the president said. “We’re reopening gradually; children came first, and this weekend saw athletes, adults, seniors and at-risk groups get their chance at a limited return to certain movement. It’s time now for a step forward”, she said, “but we’ve got to do it responsibly if we want to avoid having to take steps backward later”.

“Formentera’s rollout of phase one is good news, but it needs to happen with caution and responsibility”, Ferrer offered. “From today we’ll ease out of confinement at the local level, but we’ve got a long way to go before we’re ready for tourism”, she said, assuring residents that “first it’s going to be inter-island, then national, and, at the end, international”. Holding up tourists as “our economy’s driving engine”, Ferrer said that tourism’s return to the island wouldn’t just depend on how the health crisis unfolds here, “but on the way the pandemic plays out globally”, she said. “We’re already working on a new promotion strategy that—when we’re ready for visitors—will start with markets close in proximity to Formentera”.

Phase one

The president gave an overview of the main pillars already set out by Madrid with regards to phase one, including provisions for vulnerable individuals receiving clinical care. Two-metre physical distancing will remain in place, and riders of public transport will have to wear masks, as will individuals unable to respect distancing measures. “Handwashing remains crucial as well”, she said.

Per a preliminary reading of the country’s official gazette, Ferrer said people on the island would no longer face mobility restrictions. Highlighting ministerial orders announced mere hours before phase one was due to take effect on Formentera this evening, she asked that in future phases local government be given advance details and a contact person “to help us interpret the new guidelines with sufficient time”.

Starting tomorrow, Formentera residents in groups of no more than ten can return to social contact in public spaces, bar terraces and homes providing safety measures are respected.

Terraces, restaurants and shops

In the new phase, businesses that occupy less than 400 square metres can reopen as long has specific hygiene measures and protocol are followed. Shops must remain below 30% capacity and make sure customers keep a safe distance. Terraces of bars and restaurants can seat half of their normal maximum if a safe distance is kept between tables.

The trade department is teeing up educational materials on protocols and will offer them to reopening businesses in the days ahead.

Consell information service

From tomorrow, informadors will be posted in Formentera’s main towns to provide information about unfolding de-escalation measures. Local police, the Civil Guard and Civil Protection, for their part, will continue controls and educational efforts in rural parts of the island.

Public transport

Riders must wear masks aboard public transport, and vehicles will ride at half capacity. Taxis, meanwhile, can carry no more than two passengers at a time, who must ride separately and in the back seat. Established hygiene measures will remain in place everywhere.

The president spoke frankly: “This is a very serious disease. We’re entering a phase of return to normalcy, but this isn’t ‘full speed ahead’ and throw caution to the wind. It may seem contradictory, but right now keeping our distance is crucial if we want to come together again later”.

3 May 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Consell de Formentera to let work continue on sites with permits that predate emergency

Under an order issued today by the president’s office and adopted by the Consell de Formentera, the ordinance on noise and vibrations that typically goes into effect 1 May and continues through 15 October will not be enforced. Projects with permits that predate the invocation of emergency orders will be allowed to remain active after 1 May and for the duration of the state of alarm.

“Given the tourist season remains on hold and considering the spirit of the ordinance was to spare visitors nuisances, we have opted to forgo enforcement of the ordinance so long as emergency orders are in place”, explained territory conseller Rafael González, who said the upshot was that, amid the absence of tourists this May, works that are already under way “can continue during this exceptional situation of public health crisis”.

The decree does not affect those projects whose orders to cease activity comes from Madrid—namely, existing buildings where there are individuals not involved in construction.

Enforcement of health protocol designed to limit spread and transmission of Covid-19 on job sites will continue.

28 April 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Formentera distributes 1,000 face shields to essential staff on Formentera and Eivissa

foto 2020 donacio pantalles1Earlier today Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer delivered one hundred face shields to Formentera Hospital deputy director Ilana Martínez. Cutall GmbH & Co. KG, a German firm, donated the equipment—a total of one thousand units—which the local government will distribute among essential services in the Pine Islands.

The protective gear will be rationed as follows: 100 for Formentera Hospital, 100 for the Formentera Local Police, fire brigade and Civil Protection, 50 for Formentera Civil Guard, 50 for priority external services such as private dentists and doctors, 200 for Formentera Department of Social Welfare staff and municipal employees with direct public contact. The remaining 500 units will be sent to the Eivissa-Formentera branch of the Balearic health institute (Ib-Salut), which will decide how best to disburse the shields according to need.

President Ferrer gave special thanks to company owner Joachim Nöthen for the donation. “Mr Nöthen has deep ties to the island”, she said, “He’s spent long periods of time here, and he reached out about the donation”. Cutall typically specialises in laser cuts for acrylic signage, but realigned its focus to fit emerging needs amid the Covid-19 crisis. With the going market rate for face shields between €10 and €12, the estimated value of the donation is €10,000.

22 April 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

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

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