The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

MUMN, MHRA, Chamber of Commerce welcome relaxation of measures

Albert Galea Wednesday, 20 May 2020, 08:36 Last update: about 9 days ago

The MUMN, MHRA and the Chamber of Commerce have all told The Malta Independent that the relaxation measures announced by the government on Monday night were an agreeable step.

On Monday evening, the government announced that restaurants, hairdressers, and beauticians amongst others will be allowed to re-open subject to a number of conditions which impose the social distancing measures necessary to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Asked whether they agreed with the new measures and how they will be implemented the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN), the Malta Hoteliers and Restaurant Associations (MHRA), and the Malta Chamber of Commerce all showed their agreement with the measures.

MUMN President Paul Pace told this newsroom that while the manner in which the news was announced on Monday night was worrying, noting that it was “crazy” to make it seem like social distancing measures would be merely guidelines, the fact that these measures will in truth be enforceable by a legal notice is a positive step.

MHRA President Tony Zahra meanwhile also welcomed the announcement, noting that the MHRA had targeted an end-of-May re-opening for restaurants. The fact that restaurants will be re-opened earlier than that – next Friday, to be precise – is a very positive step, Zahra said.

He said that while some minor adjustments may be made, they agree with the general terms under which the restaurants will re-open for business.

The two constituted bodies issued statements last weekend with regards to the re-opening of the airport, and both of them remain staunchly conflicted in this regard, in spite of their agreement on the new measures.

Chamber of Commerce President David Xuereb meanwhile welcomed the movement in relaxing restrictions, noting that they had been asking for such a movement based on an equilibrium between the economy, physical health, and mental health.

Asked whether he felt that, from an economic perspective, the measures sufficed or left more to be desired, Xuereb noted that it is difficult to say whether they were enough or not and that a balance between the three aforementioned pillars needed to be sought.

He said that as a Chamber they are not being bullish about their predictions or statements, noting that – in spite of asking the Government – they do not have access to data or modelling which shows the effects of the relaxation of certain measures.

He noted that, given the low numbers over the past week, the country is certainly in a position where it could cope with having outlets re-open, but emphasized on the need for discipline on the part of both employers and the general public in order to continue to manage the situation.

“The better we are at realizing that Covid-19 is with us all the time, in managing business operations, and in being disciplined, the further we can go and the more aggressive we can be in opening further”, Xuereb said.

Both Pace and Zahra meanwhile spoke to this newsroom about the possibility of Malta’s airport re-opening soon and the potential of having some form of tourism in the summer – views which ultimately clash with each other – with Zahra saying that we cannot let “project fear” dictate the relaxation of measures, and Pace saying that once one opens the airport, one doesn’t “live with the virus, one dies with it”.

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