Mask requirement in Spain: fear of tourism phobia

ACatalonia and the Balearic Islands are now also followed by Andalusia. The most populous region in Spain also plans to introduce the mask requirement in public this week. Given the increase in new corona infections, three of the most popular holiday destinations have decided to take this precaution. Regional President Juanma Moreno emphasized at the weekend that Andalusia is not in a critical situation, but the best thing is to prevent it in good time. He also gave another reason: “In some small communities, a kind of tourism phobia arises because the visitors come without a mask,” said the conservative head of government.

So far, neither domestic nor foreign tourists have flocked to the Mediterranean beaches. But above all, the residents of smaller towns, who had been spared the pandemic, wanted to stay among themselves before the border opened three weeks ago. The suspicion was particularly the six million inhabitants of the capital region, in which the pandemic was initially the most violent. Hashtags such as “#madrilenosgohome” have been used to invite Madrid residents to stay at home.

Unlike in Gütersloh, for example, there were never any special restrictions in Spain for regions that were more affected by corona. The end of the alarm on 21 June, in addition to opening the borders to the Spaniards, brought freedom of travel in their own country. The “Madrileñofobia” revived. Politicians are now also debating the fear of the Madriders with the virus in their luggage. It hurts this general suspicion, said the Madrid regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso.

Hundreds of Germans celebrate in Mallorca

Similar concerns were heard when Mallorca opened to foreign tourists in mid-June. In the past there was talk of “tourist phobia” on the Spanish coasts because of mass tourism, and the rush of tourists compared some to a Spanish flu. At the weekend, many were frightened by the pictures of the “beer street” on Playa de Palma. Hundreds of Germans celebrated without face protection on Friday evening, just like in the days before the corona pandemic. This was also shown in a video by the “Mallorca-Zeitung”: They did not keep the distance requirement, danced, alcohol flowed freely without the intervention of the innkeepers or the police. On Saturday evening, the restaurateurs themselves, according to the newspaper, put things back in order. At the same time, the local press also reported on dozens of privately organized “Covid parties”, where no regulations are observed. Together with the mask requirement announced for this Monday, the Balearic regional government wants to crack down even more on such illegal parties. The new catalog of fines provides for fines of up to EUR 600,000.

But there is also resistance to the obligation to wear a mask in the Balearic Islands. There was a counter demonstration in Palma on Saturday, hoteliers have been complaining about cancellations from Germany and Great Britain since the announcement. Even on the Spanish mainland, not everyone is convinced of the need for face protection, although in Catalonia in the sealed-off Segrià province and in the greater Barcelona area, the numbers continue to rise sharply and around 100 foci of infection are counted across the country. A nationwide survey commissioned by the national health ministry refutes the accusation that the Madrid people are more ruthless than their compatriots. In the region around the Basque city of San Sebastián, 45.5 percent stated that they had never worn mouth and nose protection. In Madrid it is less than five percent. Many residents of the capital even voluntarily wear FFP2 masks on the streets.

With masks on the beach: Couple in Calvia, Spain on the beach

There was a strict mask requirement at least on Sunday in the Basque Country and in Galicia: only those who covered their mouths and noses and disinfected their hands were allowed to enter the polling stations in the regional elections. There was a political dispute over whether the election could take place due to new herds of infection in the Galician province of A Mariña, in which 70,000 people had to be quarantined at times. They had been postponed to July 12th because of Corona. In a rush decision on Saturday, the Supreme Court in Madrid had no objection to the sometimes drastic measures taken by the two regional governments: a total of more than 400 positively tested voters have to stay at home and are not allowed to vote. Individuals who were in direct contact with them and are therefore in quarantine at home received precise instructions via SMS. You should fill out your ballot papers at home if possible and throw them in the ballot boxes if there is hardly any demand.


What are we doing in Poland?

MIttenten in the tourist mile, on Zielony Most, the “Green Bridge”, says the fourteen-year-old teenager: “Hey, why is it so perverse here? I don’t actually feel old-fashioned things like that, but it’s cool here. ”Amazing words from a young person who, due to his age, spends most of his time complaining or silent.

A stone’s throw away is the Black Pearl Ship, an historic galleon. Seagulls circle above the Green Gate, which leads to the old town. One hears, typically Poland, just church bells. We are in Gdansk, a city like a doll’s house, just right for a long weekend with the kids. Admittedly, my three children just didn’t want to go to Poland with Papa. And maybe they just reflect a common stance. It can hardly be said otherwise, the relationship of the Germans to their second largest neighboring country is disturbed. A recent study showed that Poles are learning German less and less at school. And in our news there are two main things from Poland: State-sponsored homophobia, which is otherwise only found in religious dictatorships. And constant nagging at the EU, which Poland still wanted to join in 2004.

Search for the tin drum

The Republic of Poland is still a popular destination for us. Poland receives about 19 million tourists a year, about a third are Germans. And a lot connects the two countries. Sometimes it is Günter Grass, born in Gdansk. We get into the so-called Bernsteingasse, the Ulica Mariacka. The yellow stone in the shops everywhere in showcases, the dealers made of amber even build racing cars. But in the middle of it, a cast iron sign says: “Biblioteka”. Books are stacked and lined up on high shelves, an old wooden staircase leads to the upper floor, it looks like “Harry Potter” (and that’s why the children go in with it). Inside, a middle-aged man sits behind the counter. On an old shelf, next to a historical globe: the white and red striped tin drum. “It’s the original,” he claims. “From the film.” And then he pulls one large volume after the other off the shelf and shows old pictures of his Gdansk. “From Günter Grass’s estate,” explains the librarian. He thinks about what might interest the children. The Hevelianum, the children’s museum – unfortunately closed. “Just go for a walk!”

And we do that every day. The old shipyard is in the north of the city, dilapidated and unguarded. The strikes of 1980 began there, the Solidarność union was created around the labor leader Lech Walesa. The historic site can be visited by simply climbing through one of the smashed windows. The children immediately disappeared into the ruins. There are a few information boards for adults. Everything seems highly improvised. Flowers, old photos of the demonstrations on the site, and a picture of the Pope at the time are still hanging on the shipyard gate.

A few steps further, in the Museum of the Second World War, you can put on VR glasses and experience as a resistance fighter how a friend is shot. But then how the Poles courageously kill a few Nazis from the sewage system. I only think about the question of whether it was good to put these glasses on a twelve-year-old. The children want photos next to the real tanks. The museum is not convincing. The world war becomes a dark experience. Get out quickly.

Queues stand for a delicacy

Strolling on the streets of Gdańsk sometimes seems like being in Eckernförde in winter: it is very quiet. The city of 600,000 inhabitants is a sleepy nest. Good for us: one of the central attractions is a children’s carousel. The Karuzela Gdańska has two floors, is eleven meters high and can carry 78 young passengers – on horseback or in gondolas.

A somewhat improvised memorial: Solidarnosc graffito on the Gdańsk shipyard.

And then there is the Pączki. A kind of Polish donut that is sold in a street kiosk. You have to stand in line for a long time, two young bakers knead in the shop window behind glass and repeatedly push gigantic trays into the oven. The particles are sweet and salty, in a number of variations. On the second day, the children can say “Wisnia”, which means: cherry. And anyway, the food: not a day without the milk bar “Neptune”. The classic Mleczny bar is a kind of upscale snack bar in Poland, where the poor eat – and do it well. We eat there every day, sometimes twice. The place is reminiscent of a theater canteen.

The main thing is waffle machine

In the evening it gets very quiet in the city. Anyone who reads “Tripadvisor” and the like comes up with suggestions such as: Kalashnikov shooting without a gun license. Luckily that you are always reserved with children and go to the hotel early. The new Holiday Inn Danzigs is mercilessly modern, with rocking chairs hanging on thick ropes, ideal for hipsters, but none of them are around. The house is one of the old warehouses at the harbor, the historic walls have been integrated into the building. The bar on the top floor offers a view of the entire city. And if you are bored, you can get annoyed by the very weak service all day.

The children don’t care: there is an American waffle machine at the breakfast buffet, a “Golden Malted Waffle Baker”, the dough flows from a large dispenser, a large waffle iron is baking next to it, you serve everything yourself, all kinds of syrup is available. “This is,” the children clarify, “the best hotel in the world.”

Very white, very new: The Holiday Inn in Gdansk.