Malta will no longer accept any work permit applications for third-country nationals looking for a job in the country unless they are highly-skilled individuals, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri has revealed.
No definition was given to what highly-skilled means.
Speaking in a press conference announcing a financial package to combat an incoming economic recession following the COVID-19 outbreak, Schembri also announced that any Maltese company who fires a worker would not be allowed to replace them with a third-country national.
Schembri was recently made to apologise to foreigners in the country after telling parliament that the government would prioritise the jobs Maltese people and that third-country nationals who lose their jobs will have to return to their home countries.
The minister was citing a longstanding EU law for third-country nationals but several people, Maltese, EU nationals and third-country nationals alike, accused him of being insensitive.
Lovin Malta has revealed that hundreds of third-country nationals have been told to pack up and leave by employers who will not be renewing their work permits over COVID-19 coronavirus fears, or face deportation or being declared an illegal immigrant.
However, Schembri insisted that the government will work to help all third-country national to find alternative employment.
Economic concerns have grown in recent days with the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak set to trigger an economic recession. Malta is already taking a heavy hit ever since the government effectively closed its borders to non-essential travel through mandatory quarantine for all arrivals.
The tourism and hospitality industry is facing the most significant threat. However, businesses across the entire spectrum are expected to feel the punch.