The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

TMID Editorial: Covid-19 - Of common sense and moderation

Saturday, 1 August 2020, 08:38 Last update: about 5 months ago

Mass events have been restricted as a direct result of bad decisions taken, greed and a lack of common sense.

Restrictions were eased earlier this year when it became clear that Malta, through timely measures and enforcement, was managing to keep its Covid-19 infection numbers low.

Up until then, people were largely following the laws and guidelines issued by the health authorities. But everything changed when the government announced that the emergency order was being withdrawn and practically all social distancing laws were being revoked.

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Many had criticised the decision to reopen the airport; first for a select number of countries and then to all destinations. The reopening of the airport, however, was not the problem – mass events like pool parties are feast marches are.

We cannot understand how, at a time when the Coronavirus is still present, the authorities and the Church decided to allow gatherings of thousands of people, all standing in close proximity without wearing a mask.

We fail to understand how it could have ever been deemed to be safe to allow music festivals that attract tens of thousands of people, pool parties no less, where the risk of transmission is obviously very high.

Some blame the authorities for allowing such events to take place, others blame the organisers for being ‘greedy’ and trying to make money at the expense of public health. But one should also blame the people who go to such events, knowing full well that the danger is not over.

Life had been returning to normal, with some exceptions, and we should have left it at that, at least for now. It’s no big deal to forego the festa march for just one year, or to avoid going to an 8,000-person music festival. It would not have been the end of the world.

We were doing OK, but we just had to overdo it. What happened now threatens to undo all the good work done in previous months. It has also possibly ruined tens, if not hundreds of weddings and other smaller events, as not all venues can cater for the 1 person per every four-square metre rule.

On the other hand, just because the number of cases has increased from these two events does not mean that we’re heading into the apocalypse. Certain people place blind faith into what the medical associations and other entities are saying. But one must not forget that these are the same groups who were calling for a total lockdown on the day that Malta registered its first case of Covid-19.

We must exercise caution and restraint. If we do not overdo it, we risk going back to those terrible three months when everyone was staying at home with nowhere to go during the weekend. Common sense has to prevail, else we could go back to a situation where the airport closes again, together with non-essential shops. This has happened in other countries and could very well happen here too if we’re not careful.

Moderation is key. We cannot expect to go back to full normal from one day to the next, especially when the virus is still around, and with influenza season around the corner.

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