The Malta Independent 25 October 2020, Sunday

Childcare centres and Skolasajf to open soon, Prime Minister says

Shona Berger Sunday, 24 May 2020, 12:33 Last update: about 6 months ago

Childcare centres and SkolaSajf will open soon, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday morning.

Speaking during a One TV interview, Abela said the Maltese and Gozitan people are committed to adapting to this new normality by following protocols.

Abela said that he is optimistic, despite the ongoing situation, which has never been experienced before.

"The government was objective but constantly positive during this time," he said.

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"We are looking at a situation where we can slowly return back to normality."

On Friday, a number of businesses, such as restaurants and hairdressers, reopened as restrictive measures that were imposed due to COVID-19 were relaxed.

This has created a sense of relief for many, he said.

He addressed the situation regarding health and economic performance in the country. "One might look at these two aspects as being separate, however, they are interlinked because healthcare performance is strongly dependent on the economy, and vice versa."

The investment that the government has made in the last seven years in the field of health, Abela said, "is reflected in the medical results that Malta has achieved during the pandemic."

When one looks at the success we have had in our health care, one would realize that it is greater in comparison to other countries. "The Maltese health system planned for such a situation in advance - before the Coronavirus pandemic hit our country. For this reason, we were able to relax certain measures before other countries."

Abela expressed his confidence and belief in the public who are willing to live with the new protocols adopted in certain places such as restaurants in order to go back to normality, while still safeguarding health. He said that, "every decision taken by the government was based and supported on scientific evidence and fact."

Speaking about testing in Malta, Abela remarked that, "due to the increase in the number of swab tests, which has exceeded 60,000, Malta is able to take another step forward as the rate of positive cases has dropped to 0.6%. In the first month of testing, the rate stood at 2.7%"

The protocols currently being followed by businesses in order to safeguard public health, "will be followed and monitored in order to identify whether one could update these protocols."

COVID-19 has also made a significant impact on mental health, Abela said, adding that he is aware of such a situation and the government is addressing it with the relaxing of other measures which are related to elderly homes, and will be put in place on Monday. "Despite this decision, it is still very important to protect the vulnerable."

Abela highlighted how, with the measures that were taken, the government has saved over 100,000 jobs during the pandemic. "Such measures also allowed us to control the unemployment rate in our country, unlike other larger countries who have seen their jobless figures rise."

He added that the wage supplement that is being given to workers in order to support them will remain until businesses start operating normally again.

"At this stage, the government is expected to launch new measures which will boost the economy. These measures include ways of encouraging the public to turn the economic wheel by investing."

The return to normality also involves people actually going back to work while following all the precautions being taken by the Health Authorities, he said.

With regards to the immigration crisis, Abela said that, "Malta has never failed in its international obligations and every step has taken into account the context of the pandemic in our country, so much so that a number of immigrants were rescued."

He added that, "if it was not for the Maltese government they would have drowned. Currently our ports are still closed, not only to immigrants but to everyone, in order to safeguard public health as much as possible."

He said Malta cannot be left to act alone and the EU must address the situation in Libya, in order to resolve the issue of human trafficking, among other things. "Malta is ready to work and to be a catalyst for changes that need to be made," Abela said.  

 


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