The Archives from 2020 news around Andorra as it was! The year that COVID changed the landscape!
Let`s see what happened or in most cases what has not! There is also the historic pandemic archives for Andorra here, see how Andorra reacted to all of this...
3rd December 2020 Ski Wars Part 1, the EU strikes back.....
Warning: Politically incorrect and potentially inoffensive content!!
While the fish in the North Sea breathe a sigh of relief as to who can fish where, attention turns to the battlefields of Europe as to who can ski where? This disunity once again could end in unthinkable circumstances where piste tanks, anti-chairlift missiles, armoured snowploughs, anti-snowboard mines and prisoners of slopes camps could mean :-
- The Germans annexing Apresskienland
- A British ski tour plane with RAF escort heading to a secret location.
- The French Imaginot line pointing the wrong way down the slopes
- The Spanish pretending to be neutral,
- The Swiss definitely not being neutral,
- The Italians giving up on the nursery slopes,
- The Americans with no interest in Europe as they have their own ski resorts
- The forgotten pistes of Russia
- The Japanese still a long way from Europe
21st November 2020. The prisoners should be running the prison.....
It has been reported that the wardens had a dinner together, a dozen or so, contrary to the 2 person quarantine rule. Lo and behold 4 of them contracted the virus. Not only that, one of them who was positive and who was ordered to self isolate was then found in a bar in Santa Coloma, much to the anger of the landlord !! So, with now 15 wardens positive the poor old prisoners who for obvious reasons cannot be told to isolate at home await their fate. Maybe they should be running the joint and do a better job....
18th November 2020 - The Daily Rant - La Massana traffic nightmare solved...not!
With the ever increasing population and construction in La Massana, Ordino and in the valleys that make up Vallnord the traffic nightmare at peak times in La Massana seems forever lacking a solution. In 2008 the planned bypass funding was halted in the 2008 crisis, read here for that. During 2018 and the first part of 2019 the bypass again made it back onto the Government consideration, only to be re-prioritised due to the COVID situation. This meant that the Government has shelved the bypass plans until at least 2023 while the current priority has been designated as an exhibition centre in a location that has not yet even been decided (perhaps if they decide on Ordino, the bypass would magically appear as dignitaries would have problems getting to it). The current solution to relieve the traffic pressure, you guessed it, is yet another mini roundabout smack in the centre of the High Street. There are now more roundabouts in Andorra than butifarra entrepans, and as discussed before here most are placed to confuse all, impale cyclists, jam coaches, and solve nothing. We have the Casino, Pic de Carroi cable car, the exhibition centre and other projects proceeding but no priority for the poor Massanencs and Ordinencs.... rant over...
18th November 2020 - Canillo, Palau de Gel (Ice Rink) may have to close
For the past 30 years the owner has rented the premises out to the Comú for a rental of about 22,000 euros annually, which at the time was obviously about right but did not allow for any annual increases (OR if they did as most contracts do any annual increases were forgotten to be enforced). Now that the lease is up for renewal the owners are demanding a new rent of 300,000 per year to reflect curent prices and value. It seems the counter offer of 100,000 is all the Comú can afford to offer. The two sides are miles apart and it seems the ice rink may have to just melt away.
6th November 2020.. A strange winter policy for tourists under consideration...
One can only applaud the Government of Andorra for its tackling of the pandemic since March 2020, but some recent policies seem to be raising eyebrows. None the least the statement that tourists are not the problem that cause infections to spike. Given that Andorra was COVID free at the end of the lockdown it would be hard to blame migratory sparrows for the resurgence when the borders opened again to tourists. Now there is a proposal to require negative COVID tests by tourists at the most 48 hours before arrival in Andorra if they intend to spend more than 4 nights here and come from a country considered high risk. But exempt from those requirements will be nationals of Spain, Portugal and France. Given that for two days last week France twice had more daily infections than India, and more deaths than India and Brazil combined resulting in the second highest figures globally, one must question the wisdom of this intended policy. With French and Spanish making up the vast majority of winter visitors it all seems rather pointless.....
19th October 2020.... Does anyone have a cable and a car?
It was interesting to note that a recent advertisement requested tenders for a planning study for the new proposed Pic de Carroi cable car. The advert requested though that only companies with proven experience in cable car installations need apply. This professional experience requirement was not requested for the planning and bidding for the Casino operation in Andorra. Some of the global giants of the casino world such as Genting Casinos who operate most of the Asian and other global resorts and who bid the highest for the license were overlooked in favour of a local group of honchos in Andorra. I suppose though a few folding tables, a pack of cards and some dice you don't really require that much experience. It was a shame then that the cable car tender required proven experience because I have some cable and an old car in my garage which could have been useful?
23rd September 2020... Another successful Isard week...
The organisers of the traditional annual Isard shoot pronounced the week a success after the slaughter of 150 Isards last week. A spokesman for the Isards is yet to comment. It appears some hunters were so happy to be up in the hills that they just dumped 6 Isards they had shot under some bushes in Aldosa, La Massana, contrary to the correct procedures, not that any variation in procedures would have saved these specimens. A spokesman for the hunt organisers claimed it showed a lack of respect to the Isards. Maybe the bullets were somewhat more disrespectful?
Photo courtesy of the
Diara d' Andorra
20th September 2020.... Dog license proposal
Andorra is barking mad over a new proposal to introduce a dog tax for owners. Over 3,000 people have signed a petition against such a move. The license proposed will be based on the size and species of a dog which means that a Great Dane will be rather more expensive than a Chihuahua. At this stage it is just a proposal but another tax creepeth in, and an indirect tax as that as the dog does not get to pay it!
The doggy tax proposals will now come into effect from 1st January 2021. Each dog will cost 25 euros per year to license, except for guide dogs or if you are over 65 the first one comes free (Dogs over 65 are all free). If you live in Encamp or Escaldes the tax does not apply so as this outrageous new tax is causing protests, the option would be to move Parish.
September 7th 2020, Andorra on the map again but not for the right reasons perhaps...
The Andorra Hustle, the latest blockbuster where BPA closure was manufactured by Spanish Intelligence to decapitate the leadership of the Catalan independence movement. The closure of BPA was a mistake, it was a set up, the political elite at work . Truth or fiction?
As an option on the other channel is a replay of the previously postponed 1996 curling quarter finals Latvian mens college Pro league...
1st September 2020 Duty free import crackdown into Andorra...
We have all drawn up to the Spanish and French side of the border to get our tax retrun slips stamped and then headed on into Andorra without any declaration. Maybe few people know that any imported goods where tax is claimed back and the goods have a value of more than 300 euros MUST be declared at the Andorra side for the 4.5% import tax. Also regardless of whether you claim back any tax the personal allowance that you can bring into Andorra is 900 euros and if the value is higher then again you are obliged to stop and declare the goods. Well may be it is the COVID conundrum in that Governments around the world are looking for ways to help pay for the mess, that Andorra has announced a crackdown with increased random checks. It is not expected to be a stop and open the boot check as that would cause chaos but beware, especially of fines which they are considering as well as lowering the whole allowance to 300 euros regardless together with possible declarations as per some countries flight arrivals require. Realistically all that may happen is that Andorra will impose more stop and question with searches and tax enforcement, maybe they should start with some publicity and especially clearly marked warning signs at borders.
27th August 2020 ..Casino Andorra... what a surprise...
After many years of planning (you can read the history here), including allegations of corruption, undercutting of bids, approval withdrawals, missing footbridges, amorous encounters and private detectives, defamation, court cases and other inevitable shenanigans that run concurrently with such places of "ill repute", approval for the casino license has finally been given to (yes surprisingly!!!) a local company called JOCS SA. They have announced that they intend to open the casino by the summer of 2022. JOCS SA is reported to include a former Mayor of Ordino, the head of a local construction company, president of the automobile club Andorra, Bingo star's president and a host of other pretty well-known names in the highflying circles of Andorra. The definition of a casino has been said to be a convenient mechanism for the transfer of wealth from the greedy and stupid, to the greedy and intelligent... Let's see. At least we may be able to lay a bet on when they will get round to building the La Massana bypass, perhaps place the casino in Ordino then the bypass will be assured....
20th August 2020 Prostitutes in La Seu cause surge in COVID cases in Andorra..
At least this may be the headlines a week or so from here as it is announced that a worrying surge in cases in La Seu D' Urgell, the market border town to Andorra, has been identified as coming from "places of nightime entertainment" and amongst those places is an apartment of ill repute. Nuff said !!
22nd July 2020... Spanish nightclubs demand 20 billion euros compensation.
With the approval of the EU recovery loans and grants of an astonishing 750 billion euros, the association of Spanish nightclubs got in quickly and has demanded that a significant sum is chucked their way in compensation for the lockdown and the continuing closure orders, to the tune of 20 billion euros. Well no wonder the more frugal members of the EU are concerned about how this huge sum of money will be spent, they need to wonder no longer !! 20 billion euros is actually 40-50 times what it is costing the Andorran Government for the financial measures relating to the lockdown. I suppose nightclubs in Spain are an important part of the culture there, but 20 billion, really ???
20th July 2020.. World record breath test right here in Andorra!
A 46 year old resident was pulled over for a breath test yesterday (The camapign is on at the moment) and recorded an astonishing 5,14 grams of alcohol (g/l) in his blood stream, and this is a world record. With that amount of alcohol as researched below he should have been at least in a coma, not in a car. He must have been completely trolleyed, bladdered, trousered, wellied, ratted, s**t-faced and the rest all at the same time. 5.14 g/l is over 0.5% blood alcohol content and over 109 mmol/L. Scientific analysis of samples this high suggest:-
0.400–0.500 mg/L 86.80–108.5 mmol
>0.50 mg/L >108.5 mmol
- Possibility of death
- Severe central nervous system depression
- Respiratory failure
- High possibility of death
July 9th 2020... Tobacco, the latest vicitm of COVID 19
It seems that this year’s tobacco crop in Andorra is the latest victim of Covid 19, not that it is caught the virus, but it seems that up to 80% of this year’s crop may have to be abandoned. Apparently during the seedling process before they were planted and due to the lockdown the appropriate pesticides and treatments were not administered and consequently they are suffering from some horrible fungus which is literally killing the tobacco leaf as can be seen in the photo below taken in Anyòs. There seems to be no precedent as to what the outcome will be, normally there is a degree of insurance which farmers take out against the elements, but it appears that insurance claims may not be covered in this area. Also, whether there will be financial assistance is a matter under discussion.
July 4th 2020.. COVID news.....Andorra finally makes an international list and then doesn't
After the list of 63 or so countries that have quarantine exemption for UK citizens was announced, Andorra finally made it onto a list and alphabetically appeared at the top...
Then, when it correctly points out that UK citizens need to check reciprocal arrangements, it all comes crashing down again (with Andorra again alphabetically at the top).....
Did anyone actually ask?? As a reminder Andorra is open to all nationalities (many albeit with quarantine), that is IF you can get here!!
July 2020....The Rwanda puzzle...
Why is Rwanda on that list of 15 countries?? Answers on a postcard...
The map opposite shows where Rwanda is. The capital is Kigali, plastic bags are banned and it is home to the largest population of Mountain Gorillas.
Of the 45 countries in Africa Rwanda is number 23 for virus figures, almost the middle of the table, above such countries as Uganda, Chad, Mauritius, Namibia , and the list goes on, in fact you can see the Africa list here. Number of cases 1,025 !
Its all irrelevant anyway, the airport is closed there!
I don't know any Rwandans, am sure they are very nice people but who are making up these lists ..............please??
1st July 2020... Naturlandia limps on
I have reported here before the financial operations of Naturlandia in 2015, 2016 and followed the story on to 2017. Well after the lockdown they are up and running again sort of. It seeems though that they were more preoccupied with then birth of four bears in the park than applying for financial assistance (ERTO) for the multitude of staff on their payroll, not forgetting the 10,000 euros per month of Directors. The quality of the restaurant as per the unfortunate people who visited it is clearly available on tripadvisor. The company that holds Naturlandia is largely owned by the Comú of Sant Júlia and by extension that is public money. The finances are about as transparent as the mess the four brown bears leave behind, but in 2017 they were 5.4 million in the red and in 2018, 7.9 million euros ( Financial Research courtesy of Miquel Calsina). Now after the lockdown and with restricted opening the chances of making any dent in the operating costs is simply not going to happen. It is time to be realistic and dissolve the company since the shares are worthless. Incidentally when they do close I would suggest Vallnord looks at buying the Tobotronc, it could be an interesting addition to the bike park in La Massana???
July 1st 2020... Cirque de Soleil collapses but can still manage to do Andorra
It is sometimes strange what is put into the local press, the Cirque de Soleil has become a victim of the pandemic and has collapsed and filed for bankruptcy in Canada with debts of around 900 million US$ and 4,000 of the "workforce" sacked. This does not however stop the press reporting that the Ministry of Tourism here is still hopeful that the company will honour the 2021 and 2022 appearances in Andorra already contracted. Just what is expected to appear must remain a concern, and be careful of those advance purchase tickets !
June 26th 2020.. the COVID washup
Covidiots, Zoom buddies, bubbles, support bubbles, IgG positives, Madridiots, and the rest are well understood terms which several months ago would have made you believe that you were on another planet.
We have been in lockdown, some drinking disinfectant, most clapping, all been labelled odd or even, been pricked on the finger by an unknown person in a Hazmat suit, done virtual cuddling, repeating incessantly “can you hear me” over the video app, given up explaining to Grand Parents how to use WhatsApp, made the dog suffer with 12 walks each day.
We have shouted out, called out and passed out, we have learnt how to make bread with beer, pizzas, and quiches, we have all Googled antibody test results and forwarded thousands of jokes and videos you thought were funny. We have watched box series until we had square eyes, cleaned out old cupboards, sneaked out for some fresh air during the over 70s slot and waited impatiently for the release of any new film.
Most people’s Catalan vocabulary has improved with the learning of masqueretes, the dancing and singing of the moral boosting Circulació who had no tickets to issue, bought shed loads of hand gel, and decorated balconies discovered for the first time.
So, what happens now in the “new normal”?
As countries in Asia who proudly announced they had beaten the virus go back into lockdown, would those in Europe be happy to return to the previous paragraph? Is Europe so hell bent on getting the tourist industry back up and running that they are doing so too soon and we all face a second wave? Should we just learn to live with it and accept that anyone under 45 years little risk of complications? Should we just accept it has not been nor will be an extinction event? Or is this just a rehearsal and the virus is about to mutate such ferocity as the Spanish flu that killed up to 50,000,000 people in the second wave, where it returned to those who were not affected in the smaller first wave?
The new daily rate of global new infections continues to rise by over a million new cases per week, Europe and the world are opening up to avoid further economic collapse, the worst on that front is yet to come by a long way.
25th June 2020... The repayment of the Government borrowing starts with inflation busting rise in traffic fines
The Automobile Club of Andorra has been pushing for an increase in Andorran moving offence fines for many years and now the plan has been approved and is expected to be law at the end of the year. The highway code of Andorra entered into law in 1999 when fines for speeding were still in Pesetas. The only change was translating Pesetas to Euros, that is why currently people are always amazed at an amount of say 24.04 EUR. The old fine minimum was 2,000 pesetas for fines in excess of 10km/h (12.02 EUR - the minimum is currently 24.04). The new fines will start at 100 EUR with 60 EUR increases in each 10 km/h speeding. Also the use of mobile phones will soon attract fines of 200 EUR minimum. You cannot get back from the pub on a bicycle or a horse anymore since alcohol checks will also be carried out on these!! They are also considering taking licenses away as in other countries for three or more fines within a 6 month period. Is this the first hint of tax increases to come???
June 17th 2020
Somebody had better explain to them that Salmon do not have wings and may smell if hanged out on these racks....
20th March 2020...
"The city’s police force confirmed two men tried to storm the Terminal 1 building at 5am local time on Friday.
The men got as far as the food court in the building, and were reportedly shouting Islamist slogans before the were quickly arrested.
Police are not treating the incident as a terrorist attack. "
What? Give me a break !!!!
20th January 2020 Andorra minimum salary lower than Spain for the first time
The latest increase in the minimum wage in line as always with last years CPI rate translates into a 3.2% pay rise for those concerned. In 2015 I did a comparison with other EU countries and Andorra was bang in the middle, with Spain sadly lacking behind. All has changed and for the first time the Spanish minimum wage surpasses Andorra:-
However, note that the minimum monthly wage in Spain is in fact 950 euros per month, Andorra is now 1083.33 per month. The difference is that an employee in Spain must receive 14 months salary, presumably a Christmas bonus.
So what you may say? Well when you take into account the cost of rentals in Andorra the plot thickens. A basic rental in Andorra La Vella is twice the price of Lleida and three times that of Girona. With so many people now shooting down to Mercadona over the border to do the weekly shop it all adds up to the fact that Andorra is going to start having problems recruiting its´ army of waiters and the likes. Salaries for workers in all fields from hotels to shops, offices to industry have and still are on a minimum wage mentality in Andorra, something will have to change.
What the .........???
3rd January 2020 Is this really ART ???
There has been a steady increase in what someone thinks is art. Around Andorra this style is appearing, obviously appealing to the Comú where getting a legitimate advertising sign for your business proves a night mare. BUT, this at an international ski resort ??? What does your 5 year old think of it? I am aware of petitions to get this removed, its not art just offensive rubbish and does Andorra no praise whatsoever. The petition to remove this "art" should extend to the "artist" and to whoever authorised its display. Nuff said.