Local Daily News 21st November
Company dinners advance Christmas in Alicante fleeing from inflation
Without limiting the number of people or an antigen test “just in case”, business dinners return to normal after the restrictions of the pandemic and face a new enemy: inflation. That combination of the desire to celebrate and fear of a possible price increase has resulted in a “preview” of Christmas, increasing the number of group events held in November.
The hospitality sector is optimistic and predicts a good campaign in the “new normal” while diners, who do not want to miss the opportunity to get together with their co-workers, team or friends, try to “escape” from possible increased prices in the month of December.
Restaurant professionals consider that this Christmas campaign could yield figures similar to those of 2019, which set a record for hotel occupancy in Alicante and hung the “full” sign in hundreds of restaurants in the province. In fact, there are several establishments that no longer have tables available for the most sought-after dates this year: the weekends of December 9-10 and December 16-17.
For Alejandro Pavón, owner of “La barra del Ibarra” in Alicante, there is a difference between personal and professional events: “reservations for groups of friends have come a long way, and “almost all” are concentrated in the month of November, while companies “are requesting tables for the month of December”, as was customary.
The restaurateur affirms that the sector has the sensation of “a total return to normality, as if people had already lost their fear of crowds and closed places.” Pavón celebrates the “perfect cocktail” made up of “the desire” and “the good temperatures we are having” and predicts a Christmas campaign “as usual”.
Regarding the effects of inflation, hoteliers recognize that this year it is being especially difficult to prepare menus for groups. They point out that the intention is to “continue offering the best quality and service” but that costs “have skyrocketed in all products”, which is why many are being forced to choose between “cutting” the menu -either in number of dishes or the size of the portions – or increase the prices, which are rarely below €35 per person.
In this sense, the owner of La barra del Ibarra acknowledges that “it has been a numerical fight to be able to adjust them without raising prices and maintaining quality” and although he admits that “the prices of the genre have always increased during these dates” he assures that ” We have noticed a lot that this year the increase in prices for the holidays started from an already high price”.
An opinion that coincides with Adrián Mazón, owner of the restaurant “Bailén 17”, who has also perceived an increase in reservations in the month of November. The hotelier expects “a much better campaign than last year” when the health recommendations to avoid meetings of this type caused a wave of cancellations: “last year I lost close to 400 diners due to cancellations.”
For Mazón, although inflation affects, he does not consider that it will be decisive in the Christmas campaign “since on these dates people always want to get together, and make more efforts.” However, he warns that “the problem will come later, when prices continue to rise and it is more difficult for people to go out to eat.”
The desire to return to normality is not the only reason why many diners are bringing their events forward to November, trying to “escape” the effects of inflation and the Christmas campaign is the other major determining factor.
Carlos Jiménez, a consultancy worker, tells of the reasons why his company has opted to celebrate the traditional Christmas dinner a month before the holidays, on November 25: “It is much easier to balance the schedules both between us like with restaurants.
In addition, this man from Alicante assures that “by doing it in November we also hope that it will be a little cheaper for us” since “with company dinners it happens as with weddings, as soon as you say what the reservation is for, the same menu costs twice as much”.
The Ministry of Health invests €555,000 in the fleet of vehicles for home care
The Generalitat has awarded the company Movilidad Urbana Sostenible the supply of a new fleet of 21 new hybrid vehicles -non-pluggable electric motor / gasoline engine- for a period of three years, until December 31st, 2025.
The Ministry of Health’s investment will be 555,000 euros (VAT included). The winner of the contract has presented a reduction on the initial bidding price of 5%. They will be compact five-seater sedans that will be used for the home health care service, with GPS navigator and hands-free, among other equipment.
Both for the transfer of health professionals who must provide urgent home care from the hospital and health centres and for the ordinary home care of the personnel assigned to the Home Hospitalisation Unit (UHD). These cars will be based at the University Hospital and in the health centres of Rojales I and II, La Loma, Acequión, Patricio Pérez, San Luis and La Mata de Torrevieja, Guardamar del Segura, Orihuela Costa, San Miguel de Salinas and Pilar of the Hole.
The contract includes all operations related to key control, mileage control, cleaning, preventive maintenance, technical inspection, repair, replacement of vehicles, insurance and 24-hour service. Also refuelling and mileage control daily.
An "eco friendly" secondary school in Elche
The students of the IES Victoria Kent in Elche carry their lunch in cloth bags, in recyclable containers and water in their own reusable bottles. They have eliminated the plastic. Their work is rewarded with a series of educational rewards such as a slight grade increase, being able to see the book in an exam for five minutes or sitting with the partner they want instead of in list order.
The students who are more aware of the environment can exchange the stamps on their points card for whatever they prefer. Although, as the promoters of the “Mar Sense Plàstic” initiative point out, it is only a stimulus because their students are already motivated with environmental care “and what we want is for them to get involved without asking for anything in return”, explains the teacher Olga Tortosa.
In this educational centre, care for the environment and the fight against climate change have been taken to the letter. The students have a point card that is stamped every time they do something to care for the environment. “Our main objective is to reduce plastics and raise awareness about the abusive consumption of this material,” explains the professor from the Department of Biology.
In a corner of the patio we find a group of students giving classes outdoors, sitting on old palm tree trunks that serve as seats. In this “animated garden” in addition to teaching classes, they also carry out activities.
Even one of the prizes that students can redeem is, precisely, going out there to receive the lesson instead of in the classroom of the building. There, native species of the province and fruit trees from Elche have been planted. And they have a nature classroom outside. Also with a hotel for insects and they are now making some nest boxes for bats. Each student even has a sponsored plant.
The educational project to care for the environment and the impact of plastics in the sea has the support of the Elche City Council and the Ministry of Education. In fact, the latter granted them the power to teach a pioneering elective subject for third-year ESO students, “Biology Deepening Workshop”, where they carry out marine biology laboratory practices and, in addition, train students so that they are the that they are going to give talks to raise awareness among the youngest students.
“Third-years give talks to First-years and, in addition, they go to the schools that are attached to our centre to also give talks,” explains Tortosa. The subject is a great success and it is the third year that it has been taught, with 45 students enrolled in this course.
The Torrevieja health area is at the bottom of beds per inhabitant in the Community
The average number of hospital beds is 2.6 beds per 1,000 inhabitants in Spain, according to the 2021 annual report of the National Health Service. In the Valencian Community this average is 2.3 beds. The Torrevieja Hospital would have 210 hospital beds operational, 256 according to the figures of the department’s management, and 296 “installed” with the data of the Generalitat corresponding to its 2021 balance, still in a pandemic.
However, with this last figure, the most optimistic, the average number of beds in the Torrevieja area per thousand inhabitants would still be the lowest in the province and in the Valencian Community for a regional hospital: 1.4 beds per thousand inhabitants. Less than one if the most pessimistic figures are taken into account.
And it is that the registered population of the department in the year 2000, when the creation of this department and the Hospital of Torrevieja was designed, was according to the National Institute of Statistics of 98,927 inhabitants. In 2021, according to the same body, it is 190,554 while the Generalitat recognized in its memory of that year that it already assumed 204,000 health cards. This represents a population increase of more than double.
The figures indicate that the department of Torrevieja and its regional hospital have become the most important by population assisted in the province, surpassing the department of Elx, which has a referral hospital.
The actual data on health cards attached to the department contrast with those offered by Ribera Salud in its latest public appearances on the management of the area, in which it indicated that the department had some 165,000 users with a health card.
The data have been revealed by the 100×100 Public and Quality Health Platform in order for the Generalitat to react by equating the number of beds to the Community average, and the staff and resources to the real population. They also point out that the department is not only behind in beds per inhabitant, but also that the Hospital is complete, at one hundred percent of its capacity throughout the year.
Because Torrevieja has the same rate of beds per thousand inhabitants as the two marinas -also tourist areas-; However, parameters such as the replacement interval -the time it takes to occupy the hospital beds between the discharge of one patient and the arrival of another- mark differences: they are 2.59 days in the Vila Joiosa hospital (Marina Baixa) and 3.25 days in Denia (Marina Alta), while only 0.35 days in Torrevieja, with which the degree of saturation in Torrevieja is much higher.
Nor does that censused population correspond to the real one. Based on data on water consumption and waste generation in Torrevieja, the largest municipality of the ten assisted by the department, 111,000 people live permanently, when the official National Institute of Statistics census shows just over 83,000.
Extrapolating these estimates to the rest of the municipalities in the area -Orihuela Costa, Pilar de la Horadada, Rojales, Guardamar, San Miguel de Salinas, San Fulgencio, Los Montesinos and Benijófar-, the actual population of the department stands at 255,000 people. It is a situation inherited from the management of the private concessionaire, which did not advance by putting more resources into reinforcing the department, but that direct management does not correct.
Ageing reaches historic levels in Alicante
Ageing has reached historical heights in the province of Alicante, after for the first time there have been 5,020 more deaths than births in a year. This is revealed by the definitive data on the natural movement of the population in 2021, which has just been made public by the National Institute of Statistics and which corroborate what had already been glimpsed through the provisional figures that had been known in the last months. In general terms, it is certified to what extent the coronavirus health crisis has also generated a demographic crisis.
The National Institute of Statistics has confirmed the advanced data of 13,371 births throughout 2021 in the province. There was a testimonial recovery in relation to the previous year, with 37 more births. However, it must be remembered that, due to the pandemic, in 2020 the drop in the birth rate accelerated, which, structurally, had been occurring almost uninterruptedly since 2009. That trend worsened in the first months of 2021, just nine months after the strictest weeks of confinement, when records were broken for the scarcity of births. The recovery recorded during the second half of the year has not been sufficient.
The figure of 13,371 births per year is still the seventh lowest in the last half century in the Alicante region, and is still very close to the recent minimum of 12,811, registered in 1997. From then on it began to rise, and in 1999 more boys and girls came into the world in the province than during the past year. For this reason, although in 2021 there were a few more births than the previous year, in no case can one speak of a recovery in the birth rate; the increase is almost irrelevant and, furthermore, in 2020 the decrease had accelerated due to the outbreak of the pandemic, whose effects on births began to be seen at the end of the year.
In fact, the birth rate continues to drop, given that even despite the coronavirus crisis, the population has continued to grow thanks to immigration. With the data from last year, it stands at only 7.05 births per thousand inhabitants. Yes, the fertility rate, which measures the ratio of births per thousand women between 15 and 49 years of age, has increased slightly; It stands at 32.93, well below the figure for 2019, before the pandemic radically changed the demographic context.
The coronavirus crisis has also accelerated the increase in mortality, much more so than the decrease in the birth rate. The 18,391 deaths recorded in 2021 in the province of Alicante are an unprecedented record, exceeding those registered in 2020 by 836, which in turn already represented a sad all-time high due to the pandemic. A rate of 9.69 deaths per thousand inhabitants has been reached, an unprecedented record over the last half century. You have to go back to 1960 to find similar data: 9.49 deaths per thousand residents. That year there were 6,817 deaths, but with a population of 718,293 inhabitants in the entire province, barely 38% of the current one.
The mortality rate had remained relatively stable, between 7.5 and 8.5 deaths per thousand inhabitants, rising or falling depending on the trend in the birth rate, until starting in 2009 it began to rise more strongly, parallel to the fall of the lightings. With the pandemic it has skyrocketed, due to deaths caused by the coronavirus. In this sense, it should be remembered that the province of Alicante suffered particularly hard from the third wave of the health crisis, during the first weeks of 2021, to the point of becoming, because of this, the demarcation with the greatest increase in deaths in all Spain.
This has led to an annual mortality increase of 15.6% in just two years, and that increase is 50% if the current figure is compared with that of two decades ago. But not only that: the pandemic has caused life expectancy to have suffered the biggest drop since 1975, and for the first time since that date this indicator has fallen for two years in a row for both men and women. Not even during the hardest moments of the economic crisis after 2008, nor in the one that took place in the mid-1980s, had this occurred.
The data that has just been released speaks of a life expectancy at birth one year less than before the pandemic: 79.68 for men, for the first time below 80 in the last decade, and 84.95 for women. The provisional mortality figures so far in 2022 do not speak of a decrease in the volume of deaths, quite the contrary. As of October 24, 15,134 people have died in the province of Alicante, 142 more than at the same time in 2021. This year there have not been such exaggerated spikes in deaths as those produced by the covid; However, the historic summer heat has caused a significant number of deaths, as this newspaper published a few weeks ago.
The week of the year in which the most deaths were recorded was from July 19th to 25th, with 421 deaths. In addition, the number of deaths in seven days remained above 350 for much of the summer, significantly exceeding those that occurred in the same period of 2020 and 2021, when the coronavirus gave a certain lull. So far this autumn, however, the volume of deaths per week has stabilised at around 300; In the previous two years, different waves of the pandemic began to rise around this time, something that is not happening for now.