As Malta enters a new stage in the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Robert Abela pledged to address the nation realistically about challenges it faces but will not succumb to doom and gloom.
Addressing Parliament a day after placing Malta in quasi-lockdown, Abela insisted the government always followed scientific advice when deciding when to impose, adjust, and lift restrictions.
“In recent days, we faced new challenges linked to the arrival of the [more transmissible] UK variant, which amounts to over 60% of our cases,” he said.
“At the same time, people in Malta and around the world have now been living through 12 months of restrictions and there’s a sense of COVID-fatigue. After weighing everything up and listening to doctors and scientists, we announced new measures for this particular moment.”
Abela yesterday announced that schools, non-essential shops and services, gyms, pools, and hotel restaurants have been closed, while weddings and most religious services have been suspended. Meanwhile, the maximum limit on people who can gather in public has been reduced from six to four.
Today, he opened up to people struggling through the crisis, saying his heart goes out to everyone who lost a loved one due to COVID-19, and that he feels for struggling businesses.
“We must show people that we’re amongst them, that we’re not robots, and that we care for them,” he said.
“This is how we must keep behaving – understanding the people and giving them hope. We won’t give them a sense of doom and gloom but a sense of optimism and realism. We’ll tell them the truth but make them optimistic and hopeful too.”
In today’s parliamentary debate, Opposition leader Bernard Grech criticised the Prime Minister for painting a rosy picture of the situation, despite clear indications of looming problems.