New COVID-19 Rules Mean That the Party Is Over for Ibiza Super-Clubs This Season

Ruben Earth/Getty Images

Ibiza, Balearic Islands in Spain

Sweeping new rules designed to curb "alcohol abuse" on the island also outlaw party boats, pub crawls and balcony jumping.

The verdict is in, and the party is over for Ibiza super-clubs this summer.

On Sunday (June 21), the Balearic government announced new rules pertaining to nightclubs and outdoor venues for the dance mecca of Ibiza in the context of COVID-19. These regulations ensure that the island's biggest clubs and other mid-sized venues will stay closed for the 2020 season.

For indoor spaces, the rules state that only venues with a stated capacity of 300 or less are allowed to open for the season and will only be allowed to open at one-third capacity. This means there can only be up to 100 people at a time inside a club, that they must be seated and that there cannot be a dance floor.

More broadly, the Balearic government seems intent on changing the tourist profile of Ibiza to be less of a party island. Sunday's sweeping rules are also designed to curb "alcohol abuse" in busy tourism zones in Ibiza and Mallorca such as the West End of Sant Antoni de Portmany, a popular area for beachside bars where an array of DJs, both underground and globally known, spin for thousands of tourists from the U.K., in particular.

The decree approved by the Balearic government — which will last for five years — outlaws pub crawling, party boats and "perilous practices" such as jumping from balconies. Establishments in the zones that sell alcohol will need to close between 9:30 p.m. and 8 a.m. Business owners violating the rules face fines of up to 600,000 euros ($676,000) and closure for up to three years, the government says in a press release.

For the clubbing world, the announcement is the effective nail in the coffin of the 2020 season for Ibiza mega-club institutions including Pacha, Amnesia, Privilege and Hï, which can all host thousands of clubbers on any given night. Four days prior to the official government announcement, Hï and and its outdoor sister space Ushuaïa announced that they would not open for the 2020 season due to concerns about the inability to ensure social distancing.

Before the regulations were announced, club operators had floated a variety of contingency plans including sanitary precautions, new layouts and decreased capacity. But these new rules mean that the islands biggest clubs will be simply unable to afford to open this season — let alone hire top talent like Calvin Harris, NERVO or Bad Bunny — and even club spaces that can host guests will not see much dancing.

“In principal, I understand the government’s decision," José Luis Benitez, director of institutional relations for the Palladium Hotel Group, which owns Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel, says in regards to the new regulations. "The most important issue is health. But if things improve we would like [the rules] to be more flexible.

"We have agreed to meet every 15 days to evaluate if [conditions] change," Benitez continues, "and if they improve we will ask for the hours to be extended until 4 a.m. with a capacity of 500 people. But for that we need to be sure there are no new outbreaks. We want to open, but with the confidence that we are not creating a health problem for our clients or our workers.”

Outdoor spaces in Ibiza and the rest of the Balearics including bars, restaurants and swimming pools will be open to the public, but restricted to 75% capacity. Exceptions to this rule include hotel common areas, which can be open up to 80% capacity. Additionally, as of July 1, “cultural spectacles” will be allowed to happen on the Islands, with up to 1,000 people outside and up to 300 people seated inside.