Prime Minister Robert Abela has apologised to bar owners after closing their businesses down for at least a mont- but said this measure was necessary.
“We didn’t enjoy imposing these new restrictions but they were necessary, we didn’t go overboard but they were necessary in this moment,” Abela said in Parliament during his speech on the 2021 Budget.
“We listened to people and heard different perspectives. I understand that people want to live and that we hurt people yesterday, including bar owners who have taken out loans on their bars. I apologise to them but my message to them is that this measure was necessary to protect their future and our future as a country.”
He shared a number of personal messages he received about COVID-19 restrictions in recent days, including from his own 91-year-old grandmother who told him she wants to keep living her life despite being vulnerable.
“This morning, I went to the gym and youths told me not to lock them up because they want to live their life, a woman told me she doesn’t need the government to tell her how to safeguard her own health, someone messaged me to tell me we need to introduce a three-week lockdown to bring the COVID-19 numbers down, and a bar owner told me not to close his business because he has a family and shutting him will destroy him. My heart went out for him.”
The Prime Minister also said he visited his mother yesterday but decided not to step inside her home after seeing her standing in front of him with a mask on.
“It broke my heart,” he said.
“You have to keep taking these hard decisions, knowing that you’ll hurt people, but imagine if we didn’t take these decisions.”