The Balearic Government, chaired by the socialist Francina Armengol, has rented for more than 750.000 euros an apartment complex, owned by the husband of a historical PSOE leader, to be used as a “Covid hotel” in Menorca.
The Balearic Executive has been using the Sa Mirada aparthotel del Arenal d’en Castell, a tourist urbanization located on the north coast of Menorca, as temporary accommodation to quarantine tourists who test positive or have been in direct contact with coronavirus patients.
The establishment consists of 60 apartments and is owned by the Set Hotels SL group, whose CEO and shareholder is Antonio Mercadal Arguimbau, husband of the socialist leader Elena Baquero.
During the last two decades, Elena Baquero placeholder image It has been almost everything in the PSOE of Menorca: secretary of Organization (until 2016), regional deputy in the Parliament (between 2015 and 2019), candidate for the Senate (although she did not win the seat) and councilor of the municipality of Es Migjorn, where for 17 years he has successively held the powers of Urban Planning, Education, Culture, Environment and Citizen Participation.
For 50,000 euros per month
Since it began operating as a Covid hotel, a year ago, the aparthotel of the husband of the former socialist deputy has housed about 200 patients. During some months of the pandemic, it has welcomed a single tenant (between October and December 2020), at a cost of 50,000 euros per month. It currently houses more than a hundred people, due to the spike in cases that threatens to ruin the tourist season.
The conditions of the Covid hotel in Menorca have been especially controversial in recent weeks. As the complex does not have a surveillance service, tourists in quarantine are free to leave: they leave the Covid hotel to shop, go to the beach or go on excursions around the island.
Three patrols of the Local Police had to intervene last weekend because a group of young people who remained confined had organized a party at the Covid hotel, with people drinking, shouting and music at full volume. The Ministry of Health has now announced that it will study hiring a security service to prevent patients from leaving the establishment on their own feet.
In May 2020, a few weeks after the first alarm declaration, another businessman on the island made a completely medicalized hotel available to the Balearic Government, the Artiem Carlos from Es Castell, located a few kilometers from Mahón, to be able to care for Covid patients at its facilities.
A contract ‘to finger’
The Balearic Executive came to award in May 2020 a contract of 16,554 euros to a security company, to guarantee the protection of these facilities.
However, the Balearic Government changed plans when July 2020 arrived, when it was already evident that a large part of the island’s hotel plant was going to remain closed due to the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health and Consumption, led by the socialist Patricia Gómez Picard, rented finger For just over 50,000 euros per month, the Sa Mirada aparthotel, owned by the husband of the former secretary of Organization of the PSOE Elena Baquero, to be used as a Covid hotel.
The establishment welcomed its first patient on July 10, 2020, although the contract between the Balearic Islands Health Service (Ib-Salut) and the group Set Hotels It was not formalized until two weeks later, on July 27, by the emergency route.
Now he awards the catering
The Balearic Executive awarded the contract without public tender, for the negotiated procedure without advertising (for which you must request three offers from different companies), taking advantage of the emergency situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The contract stipulated a price of 152,096 euros for three months occupancy, renewable, for the “accommodation service and complementary services with mild or asymptomatic symptoms affected by Covid-19 without residence in Menorca”.
Since then the contract has been extended at a price of around 50,000 euros per month, even in the months in which it housed a single patient. Since July 2020 the bill has already risen to just over 650,000 euros, which is entered by the company of the husband of the former secretary of Organization of the PSOE.
The Health Service of the Balearic Islands also awarded on July 20 to the same group, Set Hotels, another contract for 108,000 euros (VAT included) for the catering service of patients who remain confined in the Covid hotel. Again, by negotiated procedure without advertising, as recorded in the Balearic Government’s Contracting Platform.
The tourist season is in danger
The contract has a duration of three months, until September 30 (that is, it represents a little more than 35,000 euros per month). Until that moment, a small local company in the municipality of Es Mercadal was in charge of supplying food for tourists who are quarantined in the establishment.
After her tenure as councilor for Urbanism of Es Migjorn, Elena Baquero had to declare as charged with influence peddling in 2017, for allegedly benefiting another company owned by her husband, Agrytursa, to which she granted an irregular license to reform 82 tourist apartments on the coast. However, the Prosecutor’s Office then requested the file of the case, opened as a result of a complaint filed by the PP against Baquero.
After applying harsh restrictions to save the tourist season, the Covid rate has shot up again in the Balearic Islands: it registers a cumulative incidence of 923 cases per 10,000 inhabitants during the last 14 days. The tourism sector sees the season in danger, after the governments of France and Germany have recommended not to travel to Spain, while the United Kingdom maintains the mandatory quarantine for tourists returning from our country.
Although the vaccination campaign has significantly reduced admissions to the ICU, the Minister of Health, Patricia Gómez, has announced that the Balearic Government is considering rent a second Covid hotel in Menorca.
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