Covid comedy of errors

Last Updated on Friday, 21 August, 2020 at 2:12 pm by Andre Camilleri

We have gone from being Europe’s poster child for health and safety during Covid to near the back of the class in just a few weeks.

Other countries besides us have also seen this vertiginous spike mostly brought about like here by youngsters unable to resist the siren song of the movida.

But in the current local situation a touch of farce is never absent.

First we had the issue of finding the head of government: is he on his boat in Sicily enjoying a holiday or is he hard at work in Castille?

We had a touch of the Scarlet Pimpernel especially when the prime minister suddenly turned up in his own party’s television station on Sunday morning only for his critics to discover he had rushed back to his beloved boat. The sleight of hand aimed to confuse people and make them believe he had never taken his hand off the tiller – the country’s not the boat.

Next, in a context of increasing infections and countries shutting their frontiers to arrivals from Malta, and doctors on the warpath and threatening strikes we had the announcement on Monday of new restrictions being brought in.

The doctors soon signalled their approval of the new measures but they may have been premature. Soon the new protocol was turned round and bars suddenly discovered they could call themselves restaurants if the clients were seated and served anything that could be described as food, even a handful of chips.

And out on the streets people were falling about with laughter. Others speculated it is clear that the prime minister is back.

This is no laughing matter. Health is a serious matter and the thousands that die everyday from Covid are a case in point. This is no way to govern a country.

We now face the uphill challenge to get back to the safe height we were at before we began sliding down. It will not be easy for this time around we cannot use all the tools we used with success in Spring when we were more afraid. The airport is open, for starters, and will remain so.

We will also begin to face up to the flaws and inequalities in the national economy which we never became aware of once the economy was booming. Now that it is faltering, we can see better the fault lines.

Take the tourist sector, formerly the engine of the national economy. It is now very clear that whatever might have been said about niche markets and so on, this is still very much a mass tourist sector with sun, sand and sea being its major attractions.

The events of the past weeks have shown this formula has been declared as obsolete by the Covid.

This goes for hotels from three stars down and also for bars, hence the latest flashpoint.

It is also clear that the pandemic will force us to remove our Costa Brava image of noise, music, dance and wild enjoyment to a more staid image such as Southend in winter.

We will lose our rave party name if not our hen party game and maybe gain a name for mild winters for tourists coming from countries where they don’t see the sun for six months at all.

Yes, we must change our offer and re-tool our appeal. It will only be those who do not want to change who will keep putting our leaders under pressure to change the laws, rather than to change themselves.

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