Economy Minister Silvio Schembri has offered a message of hope to restaurants and bars who are facing financial ruin due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Back in 2013 [when the Labour Party was elected to government], we raised the economy from the dead,” Schembri said at a press conference today. “Businesspeople had lost heart, the economy’s foundations were broken and in seven years, we managed to double the amount of economic activity. Even now I’m convinced that the people carrying out sacrifices now will be lifted up.”
Questioned about calls from the MHRA and ACE for restaurants to reopen immediately, Schembri stuck to the government’s main COVID-19 talking point that “a balance must be struck between saving lives and saving livelihoods”.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that no one around the world enjoys being in, but imagine if we had listened to those people who called for a total lockdown as soon as the pandemic hit Malta,” Schembri said.
“Back then, some people and newspapers wanted to ride on public fear to pressure government into doing something that would have led to the nation’s collapse. Just look at street protests in other European countries – their health situation isn’t good and their economic situation is disastrous.”
Non-essential shops and services are set to reopen on Monday, but Schembri advocated a sense of caution when relaxing restrictions.
“Other sectors will be next in line but we must try our best, to avoid opening establishments and then closing them again, even though it could happen because of the situation with variants. Health must be a priority.”
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