Street protests could hit Malta if another lockdown is imposed, Prime Minister Robert Abela warned last night.
“It’s easy to say we should close the airport, shops, schools and everything like we did last March,” Abela said on L-Erbgħa Fost il-Ġimgħa last night. “We can do it, but we can we really? We can and we can’t because if we go down that path, we’ll have another catastrophe.”
“Look at what’s happening in countries around us; people are protesting and rebelling in the streets, saying they don’t want to be locked at home and they have a right to go shopping.”
Anti-lockdown protests in Italy and Spain have turned violent in recent days, with protestors clashing with police as they warned COVID-19 restrictions are damaging their livelihoods.
While such protests haven’t hit Malta, the anger among several bar and snack bar owners and workers was palpable when the government shut them down and imposed fresh restrictions.
Yesterday Abela opened up about how delicate the balance between protecting lives and livelihoods is, at one point asking presenter Mark Laurence Xuereb how he would have acted differently in his stead.
“We decided to adopt a targeted approach. We’re not excluding more restrictions if the infection rate increases and impacts the mortality rate, but if there’s a sustained decline in the infection rate, we’ll speak to the health authorities and reevaluate the situation.”
The Prime Minister strongly criticised New Zealand’s hard lockdown, suggesting its Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern might have wanted to bring her country’s COVID-19 numbers down as part of her battlecry ahead of the country’s general election, which she triumphed in.
“I’m very sceptical of the New Zealand model,” he said. “One must adjust restrictions according to their society and New Zealand’s society is different than ours, but more seriously its economy has entered a massive recession.”
“It’s truly scary and God forbid we had to pass through that kind of recession; God forbid it had to pass through my mind to push our economy into what New Zealand is going through.”
Cover photo: Inset photo: A recent anti-lockdown protest in Naples (Photo: Corriere Della Sera)