The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

‘We have to return to normality; we cannot let fear take us over’ – MHRA president

Albert Galea Wednesday, 20 May 2020, 09:30 Last update: about 9 days ago


The Presidents of the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) and the Malta Hoteliers and Restaurant Associations (MHRA) have clashed over the potential re-opening of the Malta International Airport, with MHRA President Tony Zahra calling for a return to normality and to not let “project fear take us over”, and Paul Pace stating that with the airport open one doesn’t live with the virus, but dies with the virus.


The two Presidents were asked by The Malta Independent whether they stuck to their respective statements issued over the airport with regards to the opening of the Malta International Airport, which has been closed since mid-March as a measure to mitigate the importation of Covid-19 into the country.

Zahra said that after the opening of restaurants on Monday, the opening of the airport should be the next step, adding that the MHRA had penned the 15th of June as a target for this to happen.

He said that while Monday’s measures will bring a degree of domestic tourism into consideration, the effect of this will be negligible in Malta and only major in Gozo.  He noted that this means that if the airport is not re-opened then there will be serious problems for the industry. 

Zahra said that this has to be discussed and done with intelligence, mooting the proposal for ‘safe corridors’ between countries which have handled the virus outbreak well as one possible avenue to follow.

“We have to return to normality; we cannot let project fear take us over”, Zahra said. 

When pointed out that it was associations representing healthcare professionals such as the MUMN and Medical Association of Malta (MAM) which were speaking out against the re-opening of the airport, and asked whether their concerns were justified, Zahra said that the fact prove that they are not justified.

“We have had 500 or so cases of Covid-19; out of those, 450 didn’t even need hospitalization – only 50 that needed some form of hospitalization out of which practically none were at ITU. Yes, we implemented a lockdown which had an effect; but the numbers do not indicate anything about what they are saying; where are the hundreds dead and the thousands in hospital that we were told about?”, he said.

“We never found a solution for HIV – so what should we do? Tell someone to stay at the airport to tell tourists with HIV not to come into the country?  We need to live with it”, Zahra said.

He said that the measures currently in place are costing the country 11 million every day – equivalent to 330 million every month. “We cannot go on like this”, he said.

“If we aren’t going to open the airport, we are telling hoteliers that they have to open in March 2021. Are you willing to tell 20,000 employees in the industry that they are going to lose their job?”, he said.

“We are talking about livelihoods – not wealth…not wealth against health – about livelihoods.  Will you tell these people that we don’t have a job for them on the basis that there may possibly be another wave?”, he added.

Paul Pace's comments may be found here


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