Prime Minister Robert Abela insisted that everyone must shoulder the burden of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, including businesses, after concerns were raised that ineffective measures will see people out of their jobs within two months.
“Businesses have made massive profits over the last few years – we can’t have a few bad weeks and suddenly businesses are going to fail or businesses are going to need to fire employees. Employees shouldn’t be treated like that, we need to look after one another. This is not the time to capitalise or profit of the situation,” he said.
Abela promised that more measures would be rolled out beyond the first batch, which was poorly received by business leaders and unions.
He insisted that the government was working day and night to draw up a comprehensive analysis of the potential economic impact and introduce a holistic plan to address the situation.
Speaking to Lovin Malta, Abela agreed that economic concerns could soon outweigh fears surrounding the virus itself. However, he insisted that the health of the nation would remain a priority.
The government has introduced a grant to incentivise teleworking and is providing a two-month moratorium on collecting taxes. However, business leaders believe these measures do not go far enough.
During the press conference, Abela said that these were only the beginning.
Maltese businesses are urging the government to partially subside the salaries of employees and self-employed people and to finance all obligatory quarantine leave.
It remains to be seen whether their requests will be heard.