The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Covid contradictions

Tuesday, 9 June 2020, 09:59 Last update: about 3 months ago

There is no doubt that the way health authorities tackled the Covid-19 pandemic in Malta helped in no small way to limit the crisis and lead to its gradual elimination, at least for the time being.

Just over three months after the first case was registered, the numbers continue to fall and we look forward to the day when it will be announced that no cases are reported and the last patients have recovered. Let us then hope that the Coronavirus will not rear its head again, at least in big proportions.

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But, having said this, one cannot but remark on the various contradictions that are in place with regard to the easing of the restrictions which were imposed at the start of the pandemic.

As of last Friday, bars and gyms were opened to customers too, with Prime Minister Robert Abela saying that 5 June should be considered as the day when the country returns to what it used to be, although this is now being described as the new normal.

Yet some decisions taken by the authorities do leave us baffled.

Photos appearing in the social media show that large groups of people gathered outside bars and other outlets in Paceville and elsewhere. Strictly speaking, no-one was breaking the law and it is not known if any fines were dished out. Perhaps the police did not bother doing so, seeing that we have a Prime Minister who is ready to consider giving amnesties to those who went against regulations during the pandemic.

But how could such large groups be allowed to gather and then weddings are still prohibited? We’re told that activities can be held for groups up to 75 people (and most of our weddings are bigger than that). Well, the number of people seen in these photographs was much larger than 75. So it is understandable that couples who had to postpone their celebration are angry when they see such photos.

Contact sport is still prohibited until 1 July. But members of football teams can still meet up in a bar and spend more time huddled together over a beer or wine than they would do on the field of play.

On 1 July we will be opening up the airport to direct flights from 18 countries, but there are no direct flights from Iceland and Finland, two of the countries in the list.

People who go to supermarkets and other outlets must still wear a mask to protect themselves and others, but then it is ok for masses of people to gather on beaches without the need to wear any protection, with children from different families playing together and grown-ups gathering under umbrellas to have a chat.

Offices have to make sure that their employees have their own space and, if not, they must be divided by Perspex or plastic, while wearing a mask all throughout the day. Vanity shops have to deal with fewer customers and must sanitise the premises in-between, but then it is ok for politicians from both sides of the House, including the two leaders, to pose for a photograph while sitting elbow to elbow around a table, and without a mask too.

Attendance for Masses when they resume this coming weekend is restricted depending on the size of the church – but then it is ok for thousands to flock to Paceville, mingle together and embrace each other.

These are mixed messages and contradictions in the way we are dealing with the situation. Let us hope we will not regret it.

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