Malta’s COVID-19 wage supplement will continue beyond October, Prime Minister Robert Abela has revealed, backing his government’s COVID-19 strategy following heightened concerns amid a swathe of fatalities and uncertainty over school’s reopening.
The supplement, Abela said, will form part of this year’s budget proposal.
“Imposing strict restrictions again would create unnecessary suffering. Our strategy needs to be focused on protecting the vulnerable. It is a fluid situation and measures could be introduced. However, we need to understand that this is a long term problem that will not disappear once a vaccine is found,” Abela told John Bundy during an interview on ONE.
Malta registered its 31st coronavirus death yesterday, the 16th fatality over a 13 day period. Active cases did drop to 623, however, after the country registered 29 new patients and 43 recoveries.
As expected, many have been vocal about the authorities’ alleged failure in protecting Malta’s elderly. the Kamra Tal-Ispiżjara ta’ Malta-flagged the spike in deaths as a clear institutional failure and a “serious indictment of how government and others have and are not protecting the most vulnerable of our society.”
With schools soon reopening, the government has continued to favour social distancing measures rather than partial lockdown. However, Abela insisted that regulations were being followed, pointing to the rise in cases within other European countries to defend the current spike.
The reopening of state and church schools has been delayed to 7th October, a week later than originally planned, so teachers can get used several new health protocols. However, Abela revealed that he plans to send his daughter to school tomorrow.
“Education is crucial and the reality is you cannot have a guarantee that students will not get COVID-19. It is important for the protocols to be in place. But I have faith and I will send my daughter to school tomorrow,” he said.
Students’ exact start dates depend on which year group they form part of, with the final cohort of students set to enter school on 14th October.
Teachers and students will have to adjust to a completely new environment, with students restricted to contact with those placed in their same ‘bubble’.
Students older than 11, as well as all staff, must wear masks throughout the day, while students younger than 11 will be allowed to keep their masks off in the classroom but will have to wear them elsewhere.
Everyone will have to pass a temperature check before being allowed inside, several hand sanitising stations are present, and isolation rooms have been set up at every school in case someone falls sick.
Footprints mark the floor all over, encouraging students to stick to the left as they move from room to room so as to reduce contact with students from different ‘bubbles’ as much as possible.
However, the threat that a student or teacher could test positive for COVID-19 remains ever-present. If a single person tests positive, then everyone they came into contact with at school, as well as all the household members, will have to go into quarantine for two weeks.
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