The Malta Independent 3 October 2022, Monday
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Covid-19: ‘In hindsight, we possibly opened for mass events too fast’ – Tony Zahra

Karl Azzopardi Tuesday, 4 August 2020, 07:25 Last update: about 3 years ago

In hindsight, Malta possibly reopened for mass events too fast, the president of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) Tony Zahra told The Malta Independent.

Over the past week Malta saw a spike in new COVID-19 cases which caused several countries to rethink Malta’s position as a safe destination.

This includes Latvia a couple of days ago which added self-quarantine requirements and Lithuania which blacklisted Malta yesterday. There is also speculation that Ireland could follow as reported by its local media.

This newsroom spoke with MHRA President Zahra to see how this will impact the hospitality industry.

Zahra seemed quite confident that Lithuania would not pose that much of a problem since, from his recollection, flights for Kaunas (the city in which flights towards Malta operate) were not operating this year.

“So obviously if there are no direct flights, the effect will be minimal. However, it is never a good sign that Malta is put on anyone's blacklist.”

He explained that one of his main concerns is adding the COVID-19 positive migrant cases to the overall total of Malta’s active cases, arguing that it gives off the wrong impression.

“Adding the 65 cases out of the 94 that were allowed to disembark to the overall number of positive cases does not give a good indication of the real amount of cases that Malta has active,” he believes. 

With regards to Ireland, he said that this situation would definitely affect Malta but "let's cross that bridge when we get to it.”

Zahra said that the situation is what it is; it is fluid everywhere and there is no manual based on past events which authorities can use for future events. This is a huge and new problem for everybody, he said, using the redundancies that HSBC bank will be enacting worldwide as an example.

“The situation is very fluid; we have to manage it with a cool head knowing the risks that the situation poses for both health and the economy.”

Asked whether mass events should not have been allowed in the first place considering that they were one of the main causes for the recent spike in Covid-19 cases, he said: "hindsight gives everyone 20/20 vision."

“The question is, should we have opened so fast or not? With hindsight, we might have opened a little bit too fast. Unfortunately, when making decisions on the future, you can't just rely on hindsight; you have to make decisions based on what is known at the time,” he concluded.



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