After the short summer hiatus, especially strange this year for most of us, we return to the routine, not so routine, of going back to work – in person or not -, back to school and, how could it be otherwise, the return to political fights in a scenario that is probably worse than we expected just a few months ago. There is no longer any doubt that the second wave of the pandemic has arrived and is once again hitting Spain with more virulence than our European neighbors. At the moment there is no new total confinement, and we trust that there will not be one, but the increasingly restrictive measures that are being applied in many territories of Spain, and the restrictions and quarantines that other countries of the world have approved, including the Europeans, for travelers from our country, draw a bleak outlook for a sector, such as tourism, which represents almost 12% of Spanish GDP and 13.5% of employment. But it is not only tourism.
The famous January slope seems that this year has advanced to September for a good part of the Spaniards: for the workers immersed in ERTE, who now fear that what began with a temporary hiatus will become a definitive loss of jobs ; of young people who have just finished their studies and who should enter the labor market and who now cannot even do an internship; of the self-employed who can barely maintain their small businesses and of many small companies, but also large ones, that have seen their turnover decrease and suffer to face monthly payments and look with fear to the future. But faced with this unflattering scenario, it is not the time to throw in the towel, but to look ahead and seek among all solutions that allow mitigating the impact of the pandemic on workers and companies, so that the economy can continue to advance, even at idle speed, so that it becomes healthy and prepares to pull hard when the arrival of a vaccine or drugs that can combat Covid, allow us to return to the already long-awaited « normal”.
It is good, in this sense, that the social agents and the Government negotiate to extend the ERTE, especially in the tourism sector, until next spring, and even until summer, if activity does not recover. With an ERTE the employment relationship with the company is not broken and you can always return. If the companies finally do not hold out and have to turn to ERE, many of those workers who go to the street will never get their jobs back. The problem, as always, is who pays for it. But Although this formula is now expensive for the State, in the medium and long term it will be worse for companies to be forced to close and lay off. And then there are the European aid that can be used for this purpose. And the next step will be Budgets. But agreeing there will be more difficult. Of course, the EU will lead the way, so there will not be many shortcuts to deviate.
The numbers. The tourism sector represents almost 12% of Spanish GDP and 13.5% of its employment, far exceeding the second European country with the most weight of tourism in its economy, which is Portugal, with 8% or France, with the 7.4%. These figures explain, in large part, why Spain is one of the countries with the economy most affected by the pandemic and the confinement measures.