A major business lobby in Malta has criticised the unveiled COVID-19 reopening strategy as “deeply worrying” and a “clear breakdown of social dialogue”.
“Even though everyone appreciates the delicate situation at the moment and in principle we agree with the staggered re-opening, one cannot but feel a great level of worry and anguish at how businesses will continue to survive this extra stretch,” Malta’s Chamber for Small and Medium Enterprises said.
“The Chamber is extremely worried and questions how businesses will be able to survive yet another stretch with the big losses they are suffering. It is evident that the basic COVID-19 support measures, while still very necessary, are far from enough to bridge the gap towards the recovery of various sectors.”
It is evident, the Chamber continued, that adequate consultation could have ironed out grey areas and also led to a more sensible economic plan.
“The level of necessary economic damage that closed businesses which are are suffering lands them in the worst lag of the COVID-19 suffering. After a full year of hardship businesses started 2021 with big hopes, yet great fragility, and being closed during a time when business should be recovering, is very hard to endure,” it continued, stressing that more financial aid is needed.
Some sectors, the Chamber added, have reached a “very critical level” and won’t make it into the recovery stage if additional measures for support aren’t introduced.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Robert Abela unveiled a staggered plan for reopening. Schools are set to open their doors next Monday, while non-essential shops and services will reopen on 26th April.
Other restrictions will remain in place for now and the government will constantly re-assess the situation, with a particular focus on the level of pressure the pandemic is imposing on hospitals.
The target is for Malta to open to tourists and allow weddings to re-commence on 1st June.
What do you make of the Chamber’s comments?