Nationalist Party leader candidate Bernard Grech has voiced optimism that Malta can contain the spread of COVID-19 and “flatten the curve” without going into lockdown.
“I think we need to take drastic decisions to make sure this situation is controlled, but that doesn’t mean going into lockdown,” Grech said in a question and answer session with Lovin Malta. “I’m aware that having people come into Malta and go to crowded places will increase the R Factor.”
“However, I think there are measures that can be taken, whether drastic or otherwise, to limit the R Factor as much as possible and flatten the curve as quickly as possible without necessarily going into lockdown.”
He didn’t state what measures he has in mind.
Grech praised the government’s initial response to the pandemic and said he understood the urgency in reopening the economy, but said it could have taken more precautions to manage the situation better, such as at the airport.
However, he criticised the government for giving the impression that the pandemic was something of the past, with Health Minister Chris Fearne even going so far as to state that Malta had “won the war” against COVID-19.
“As politicians we have a duty to tell people the truth,” Grech said. “The feel-good factor is important but you can’t tell people that things are over and not tell them to be cautious as to how they must proceed.”
“Unfortunately the people got the message that this is over and that we can now do what the hell we like.”
“I’m afraid that the urge to send the message that everything is OK and that the feel-good factor must come back was our downfall, which is why some decisions, in my opinion, could have been taken better.”
Malta has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, prompting several European countries to declare the island as an unsafe location and oblige arrivals to go into quarantine. The government has imposed restrictions on events and made it mandatory for people to wear a mask in certain places, but it has not gone into a state of lockdown as it had last March.