The Malta Independent 27 February 2021, Saturday

Chamber of Pharmacists declares industrial dispute against government over mass events

Thursday, 30 July 2020, 15:28 Last update: about 8 months ago

The Chamber of Pharmacists has become the third medical constituted body to threaten industrial action over the government’s allowance of mass gatherings to take place.

The industrial dispute was declared due to the government’s “intransigence in contributing at policy level” and its personal behaviour which renders “meaningless the sacrifices of frontline healthcare professionals, including pharmacists.”

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The Chamber said that that pandemic is an ongoing national and global issue that requires prioritised good management, discipline and responsible action.

“It is a time where the whole nation pulls together. It is not a time for playing partisan political games, nor is it the time to score political points and enhance one’s popularity sectorally”, the Chamber said.

“We should all be pulling the same rope towards the time when we have access to a safe and effective vaccine for the population, which is envisaged to be not in the too distant future due to the several initiatives in research and development taken at EU and international levels”, the Chamber added.

Only then can we talk of a post-Covid period, they said.

“However, with the permits issued for the holding of several mass events this summer with international advertising, the politicians and people irresponsibly ignoring mitigation guidelines, caution has been thrown to the wind... no lessons have been learnt from our collective sacrifices, the sad deaths of our dear Covid-19 victims, and the suffering of their families, nor have lessons been learnt from the horrific experiences of our neighbouring countries and globally”, the Chamber said.

“This jeopardises the front liners, not least pharmacists in the community who have remained open notwithstanding, giving a professional and caring service to patients and carers at great personal sacrifice”, they added.

The Chamber said that they hold the government and mass event organisers and participants responsible for jeopardising the health and safety of pharmacists.

The Chamber reminded pharmacists that all Covid-19 guidelines and directives issued since March 2020 to date are to be meticulously followed and reinforces the following instructions to the public visiting pharmacies:

1. Pharmacies will admit a maximum of TWO people into the pharmacy at any given time.

2. When in pharmacies Public must adhere to all directives given to them by the managing pharmacists.

3. These include the obligatory wearing of a face mask or visor, hand sanitising before entry and exit, and maintaining a 2 metre distance from any other person.

“We urge all to comply in the best interest of health and safety, their own and that of society, especially vulnerable persons and all the front liners - and help maintain a good essential pharmacy service under the present circumstances.”

Both the Medical Association of Malta and the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses have also threatened to take industrial action if they are not stopped by Monday, while a number of other associations – including business ones – have also called for the mass activities to be stopped.

The calls came after Covid-19 cases spiked, namely due to a weekend-long party at a hotel over a week and a half ago.  That cluster is made up of 20 cases, while another cluster of 10 cases has emerged related to the Santa Venera village feast as well.

Farrugia Portelli however has stopped short of saying that mass events will be banned, saying instead that a “balanced approach” is needed going forward.

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