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New enforcement guidelines for covid-19 containment in islands

foto 2020 regulacio covidConsell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer met today with the Balearic minister of public administrations, Isabel Castro, to discuss safety measures to prevent the spread of covid-19 on Formentera. Other attendees of the gathering included environment and inspections conseller Antonio J Sanz and chief of interior Josep Marí.

In the words of Formentera’s premiere, the Govern’s new orders, which come against the backdrop of the pandemic and are meant to ensure compliance with hygiene, distancing, face covering and other safety measures, “are as crucial as the coordination that’s emerging between forces of security, inspectors, lifeguards, Civil Protection and other volunteers”.

Ferrer pledged cooperation at every level of government, and voiced fresh praise for the responsibility displayed by islanders and island businesses that rallied to stem the spread of covid-19 on the island. “Now we’re asking our visitors to be responsible too”, she said. “Please, take heed of educational campaigns that will be ongoing.”

Castro, for her part, detailed the new Balearic guidelines on infractions of public health rules aimed at containing the pandemic. The minister said the goal was to develop “a unified and coordinated approach to enable expedited processing and resolution of fines for non-compliance with covid-19 rules”. “What we can’t abide is that a handful of irresponsible individuals jeopardise the fruits of a collective effort”, she said.

Offences and fines are classed as minor, serious and very serious based on the nature and circumstances of a particular infraction. Citing officers will also take into account factors like whether an individual deliberately violated rules, caused disproportionate damage or risk to public health, how many people were affected, if there were benefits to the offence in question, whether it was the first time, (if the offender is a business) the establishment’s place in the local business community and the nature of the business and commercial activity. Minor offences carry fines of €100 to €3,000; serious offences fines of €3,001 to €60,000 and very serious offences fines between €60,001 and €600,000.

13 July 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

New campaign uses outreach and tracing to prevent local cases of covid-19

Foto 2020 turistes anticovidIn a morning press conference, Alejandra Ferrer and Josep Marí, the Consell de Formentera president and chief of interior, respectively, unveiled details about a push to educate tourists and remind islanders about simple steps to prevent the local spread of covid-19.

Ferrer said that Formentera residents’ responsibility during confinement and the subsequent loosening of lockdown measures was “key to the island’s gradual reopening to the outside world. Every day overnight accommodations and restaurants work to follow hygiene protocol and make distancing guidelines as pleasant as possible. This is why we ask that each one of our visitors take their part of personal responsibility; with your help, we can make Formentera a place everyone can continue to enjoy. Please, ‘Protect Formentera, for you and for everyone!’”

The slogan defines a campaign built around simple visual aids conceived to educate tourists and remind residents about the four basic rules this summer amid the public health crisis:

1. Individuals from different households must respect 1.5-metre physical distancing
2. Masks must be worn any time individuals from different households cannot respect safe 1.5-metre distancing
3. Wash or sanitise hands frequently
4. Groups must not exceed 25 individuals

In the president’s words, Formentera has, “by its very nature, always been a place where keeping a safe distance is easy: our 69 kilometres of coastline make it possible to get away from the crowds and find oneself, finding nature, peace and quiet at the same time. This year with the public health crisis, keeping one’s distance is more than just an option, it’s an imperative for each one of us”. To that end, the local office of tourism has announced a new section of its website where visitors can get information about all the island’s beaches and avoid the most crowded. Beachgoers will additionally find displays highlighting distancing and safety measures.

Another poster aims to remind shop visitors and public transport and ferry riders that masks are required in all three places. The graphic on general measures can be found at Consell displays across the island as well as restaurants and beaches. Hotel and business owners and anyone else can view and download the material at a section created especially for the campaign, www.formentera.es/covid. Forthcoming content will also include video reminders about rules, and can be seen in ferries and on the Consell’s social media pages.

Checks on compliance
With safe distancing more crucial now than ever before, the Consell de Formentera has created a network of collaborating informants to keep eyes on crowds this summer. “Security forces, parking attendants, coastal concession holders and business owners are working together to tackle unsafe crowding”, said interior conseller Josep Marí. Informants who see groups forming will call 092 and notify the authorities so the situation can be defused and order maintained. “We’re trying to prevent crowds before they form”, explained Marí.

As part of a data observatory, the Consell de Formentera has put up ten antennas in key points on the island like La Savina, Ses Illetes, Sant Francesc, Es Cap de Barbaria, Es Pujols, Sant Ferran, Migjorn and La Mola to track individual movements based on mobile phone signals. President Ferrer described the apparatus as “a digital tool originally commissioned to give us a picture of the visitor flows across the island”.

This summer, data processed by the towers will be used to strengthen control measures and prevent crowds. The information will be be used internally and shared with security forces to help coordinate efforts and reduce situations of risk. The collected information will be incorporated into a digital tool that flags crowding at distinct beaches and formulates recommendations for visitors. The info can be viewed on social media and on the tourist office website, www.formentera.es.

Local Security Junta
Conseller Marí said that efforts extended beyond covid-19 preventive measures to take aim at other possible security issues like illegal watercraft bound for Formentera, or respect for safety guidelines among enthusiasts of water sports tourism. To that end, Marí indicated the Consell had turned to the Harbour Master’s Office and Maritime Civil Guard for help making sure rules are followed. The Local Security Junta will gather in mid-July to discuss these and other issues related to local security.

2 July 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

1 July marks return of controls on access to Ses Illetes

The Formentera office of mobility reports that from tomorrow, 1 July, visitors to Ses Salines nature reserve must pay to access the area, save for Formentera residents, for whom access remains free all summer long.

In the first half of July, non-residents will pay €5 or €3 for a car or motor scooter, respectively, and one euro more until the end of August. Rates return to July-levels during first two weeks in September, and shrink by one euro from the 15th to month’s end.

People with reduced mobility, drivers of electric vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists can all access the reserve at no cost. Individuals with hybrid vehicles, for their part, benefit from a 50% reduction.

Access to the reserve is controlled from 9.00am to 5.00pm all season long, continuing at Es Cavall d'en Borràs and Llevant until 15 September and concluding at Illetes two weeks later.

Mobility conseller Rafael González described the service’s closure till now as par for the course in the off-season. He said its reactivation was part of broader reopening efforts across the island.

The reserve is equipped with parking for 342 cars and 1,060 scooters.

Controlled access to Es Cap de Barbaria
Motorists will face checks from Saturday 4 July when they visit Es Cap de Barbaria lighthouse in 2020. In force until 15 October, the scheme was conceived in an effort to preserve the natural environment of the publicly-owned lot “Sa Tanca d'allà dins”.

Access to Es Cap de Barbaria has been controlled for the last three years by means of a barrier blocking vehicle passage at kilometre 6.5 of the Es Cap highway. One of the ways controlled entry works to improve visitor experience at Es Cap lighthouse and Es Garroveret defence tower is by reducing potential obstacles to access. As at Ses Illetes, the set-up in Es Cap de Barbaria, which is typically reactivated in May, was not deployed because the area found itself without visitors. There is a car park near the barrier with capacity for 60 cars and 100 scooters. Motorists are encouraged to get out and walk or cycle the remaining stretch of road to the lighthouse.

Access for people with reduced mobility
When traffic is heaviest, from 11.00am to 1.00pm and 6.00pm to 10.00pm, an agent will be stationed beside the barrier to grant access to individuals with reduced mobility.

Blue- and green-zone parking and formentera.eco
Tomorrow is the first day this season that drivers must obtain validation to park in blue- or green-zone spots in La Savina, Es Pujols, Sant Francesc and Sant Ferran. Though metred parking is in place neither in Es Caló nor La Mola, attendants will be deployed to control parking as visitor numbers in the two towns grow.

Formentera’s scheme to regulate incoming vehicles, formentera.eco, will also resume from tomorrow for the second straight year.

30 June 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Assembly members return for first on-site plenary since before state of emergency

foto 2020 ple juny 1With protocol in place to help guarantee safety and prevent the spread of covid-19, members of the Consell de Formentera met face to face today for the first monthly full-house assembly since since emergency orders were rescinded. The June plenary session came with backing for a subsidies plan for 2020-2021 and phase-one approval for a host of others, including a scheme to regulate unlawful marketing, sale and consumption of alcohol; a measure on the names of local towns, roads and public places; changes to blue zone metred parking, and a new committee charged with studying potential risks and issues relative to neglect and custody of minors.

Noise inspections at Es Ca Marí power station
In a cross-party appeal to the Balearic ministry of environment, assembly members highlighted the need for training to enable Consell de Formentera personnel to perform noise checks and inspections in enforcement of noise immission standards at Es Ca Marí power station.

Defending the proposal, environment conseller Antonio J Sanz offered that “the goal is to use the powers afforded by Balearic legislation on noise pollution to develop a suitably equipped system of inspections”. Sanz said the effective result of the environmental commission’s adoption of observations from Spain’s public light utility, Endesa, in May, was to “weaken the very emission reductions and environmental safeguards” that the Consell pushed for in March when it backed integrated environmental authorisation for Es Ca Marí substation.

Acknowledging the Balearic government’s authority on electricity, Sanz insisted the proposal aimed to “put the Consell in a position to ensure compliance with the plant’s noise immission standards”. “We have more than a seat at the table here”, said the conseller, “we have a political responsibility to do something for residents who have endured a difficult situation for years now”.

Strategic subsidies plan 2020-2021
With “yes” votes from the GxF-PSOE cabinet and amid abstention from members of Sa Unió, the assembly passed a strategic subsidies plan for 2020-2021. Economy and tax office conseller Bartomeu Escandell described the associated measures as “crucial, because they support Formentera’s associations and build stronger communities while investing in our countryside, sustainable mobility, the environment and more”.

Targeting individuals and groups that propose work of public, social interest, and which tackle disparities linked to Formentera’s double and triple insularity, subsidies will serve projects built around social change; education, culture and heritage; sport; farming, livestock, fishing and hunting; mobility and the environment.

Regulating marketing, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages
Assembly members came together to grant initial backing to a package of measures designed to regulate the illegal marketing, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages on Formentera. In the words of social welfare conseller Rafael Ramírez, in addition to “creating guidelines for tackling the illegal promotion and sale of alcohol”, the ordinance “is about protecting Formentera youth”. Ramírez pointed to recent studies putting alcohol among the three most popular and prevalent drugs on the island, and described the new bylaw as “a tool to regulate and prevent unlawful acts”.

Bolstering protections for minors
The assembly struck unity on the formation and governing rules of a local government commission to examine questions related to risk, neglect and custody of minors. Highlighting recent rules changes in the Balearics, the conseller stressed the imperative of delivering “an up-to-date system to protect children and minors”. According to Ramírez, the multi-member body, with power to deliver opinions on proposed resolutions, “will reinforce and increase the efficiency of our policies on the protection of minors”.

Traditional place names
Support came, despite “no” votes from the opposition, for a measure on the nomenclature of towns, roads and other urban sites on the island. Patrimony and language policies consellera Raquel Guasch said the change fixed various aspects of the initial document “with an eye to cementing traditional popular toponymy, time-honoured names and other features of local culture”. “Something so visible and so integral to our identity as toponymy and micro-toponymy requires certain rigour”, the consellera insisted. Other changes to the 2018 text also include replacing “Maryland” with the residential area’s traditional appellation, “Es Copinar”, and “Polígon Industrial de Formentera” with “Polígon Industrial de Can Teuet” (Can Teuet Industrial Park).

Moratorium on hydrocarbon explorations
Approval also came for an Aliança Mar Blava measure bolstered by cross-party sponsorship and defended by Formentera’s conseller of environment: “We’re pushing the Govern to urgently implement an immediate moratorium on new applications to investigate, explore and extract hydrocarbons and on new hydrocarbon exploration projects in the Spanish Mediterranean”. Unanimous support was additionally secured for the Consell’s membership in the Xarxa d'Entitats Locals (Network of Local Entities) to develop and implement the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda.

Sa Unió proposal on transparency
Consellers passed a proposal, brought by Sa Unió members and brokered by the local cabinet, on ongoing content upgrades of the Consell’s Transparency Portal and cross-party collaboration to create a commission on ethics and good governance.

Urgent motions
Assembly members gave unanimous support for two urgent motions to revisit the tax and regulatory ordinance governing blue-zone metred parking on Formentera. Mobility conseller Rafael González said the changes would make a 9.00am-to-9.00pm time-table standard in towns across the island where pàrquing regulat is in place. In light of the ongoing crisis, they would also establish a 25% reduction that hotels near metred areas could pass on to their clients. The move also clears the decks for implementation of a mobile payment app, 15-minute parking in La Savina and Es Pujols, and patrols by parking attendants even in towns like Es Caló where the pay-to-park system is absent — which, as González pointed out, already occurs on market days in La Mola.

Cross-party support was likewise secured for a proposed reference to guidelines governing child and adolescent recreational services in the new normality. Described by youth consellera Vanessa Parellada as the product of collaboration between Govern balear and island councils, the amendment to existing regulations envisions covid-19 safety and preventive measures in Formentera’s summer day-camp programme, youth drop-in centre and other Consell-backed recreational programming, as well as other leisure activities organised on the island in the new normality.

Departmental report
Infrastructure, agriculture and interior conseller Josep Marí offered members of the assembly an overview of his departments’ efforts in the last twelve months. Speaking on farming, livestock, fishing and hunting, Marí said the local farmers’ co-operative should be the “backbone and driving force of the local revival of agriculture and livestock” and, together with the Consell, “must restore, professionalise and make profitable agrarian activity”.

Underlining Formentera’s commitment to its agricultural sector, Marí detailed recipients of Consell subsidies in 2020 — Farmers’ Co-operative (€130,000), the Fishermen’s Guild (€15,000) and Association of Livestock Farmers (€37,000 plus special drought assistance topping €15,000 for animal feed).

Applauding the efforts during these unusual times of the Formentera Local Police, Marí identified the priority moving ahead as an “increasing stability on the force”, which he said could be delivered by coupling “an agile and efficient chain of command” with “sufficient officers to continue making Formentera a safe, orderly place to live, and a destination where visitors’ safety is assured”. Marí additionally praised the work of others on the Consell payroll like lifeguards and firefighters.

As Marí drew to a close, he gave a review of upgrades either under way or in the offing in distinct towns on the island, and offered that his department’s objective in the past remained unchanged in the present: “To equip Formentera, and particularly our towns, with needed resources. We want to turn towns into people-friendly places, rid them of vehicle traffic and make them more socially and economically vibrant”.

He concluded by saluting the consellers who preceded him, Consell personnel, and his counterparts on the cabinet.

Government proclamation
And lastly, backing was secured for a proposed proclamation on World LGBTI Pride Day. Consellera of equality and LGBTI affairs Vanessa Parellada explained, “we’re adding our voice to a call that has already been cast: to forgo urgency and ‘right now’ for premeditation. Our efforts must reflect the importance of comprehensive legislation that supports trans people, social equality and eradicating state discrimination of LGBTI people. We need laws that defend, protect and shield these communities against intolerance and invisibility”.

“Now that the Consell de Formentera has authority on LGBTI policies, we need to continue the longstanding efforts already under way toward prevention, education and support for the community”, she said. Parellada also identified a challenge moving ahead: the launch of a local service for comprehensive support.

26 June 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Formentera Local Police issue 17 citations for unauthorised camping

The Formentera department of interior reports that in the twelve months since 20 June 2019, the island’s police force cited 17 cases of unauthorised camping, an infraction which carries fines of up to €600.

Barring express administrative authorisation, camping is forbidden everywhere on the island, regardless of whether the site in question is public or private. Also banned are provisional and permanent free-standing structures, including mobile homes, camper vans, vans, cars and tents, not to mention other objects like sleeping bags, mattresses or mattress pads which are designed for overnighting. Individuals are additionally prohibited from sleeping on street furniture.

The restrictions were conceived in the spirit of preserving natural spaces and cultural heritage sites. Given the absence of camp sites on the island that are regulated to guarantee compliance with ecological safeguards, the activity represents a serious risk for Formentera’s land and natural environment.

23 June 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

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