The Malta Independent 8 March 2021, Monday

TMID Editorial: Covid Carnival - Let’s not fail another test

Thursday, 14 January 2021, 09:02 Last update: about 3 months ago

The current spike in Covid-19 cases has been directly attributed to private social gatherings during the Christmas and New Year period, where many chose to ignore the advice given by the health authorities to avoid mixing with members of different households.

Daily cases have skyrocketed again, and the daily figures often exceed the 200 mark, which is quite high for a country as small as this one. The number of active cases now stands at a record 2,500+.


Unfortunately, the increase in cases will likely also lead to an increase in deaths. This is quite unfortunate, since the fatality numbers had gone down over the past few weeks.

It is fair to say that we failed the Christmas test, and we are now paying for it.

The disregard of the rules and the advice given is not only leading to higher case numbers but could potentially lead us into a new round of restrictions. We had been warned.

Now, we have another test before us: Carnival.

The authorities have already said that Carnival this year will be very different to what we are accustomed to. There will be no crowds in Valletta and in other towns where the tradition is usually celebrated. Events will be limited.

The Nadur Carnival has also been cancelled over Covid-19 concerns. This includes the annual ‘spontaneous’ celebrations, which usually see up to 50,000 people congregate in the streets of the Gozitan town.

In reality, this was to be expected, since the law currently prohibits gatherings of more than six people. But this does not mean that people will not congregate.

Christmas mass events had also been cancelled, but this did not stop people from going out and mixing, and from gathering in large groups at rental accommodation, particularly in Gozo.

Now, there seems to be a ray of hope as, so far, bookings for Gozo farmhouses are not any higher than the past few months, according to the Gozo Tourism Association. Usually, at this time of year, accommodation would be fully booked, the association explained.

While this is surely not a good sign for the Gozitan tourism sector, it is welcome news for public health. Our wellbeing must remain the priority in the coming weeks and months. The government will once again be injecting millions into the economy through a second round of Covid-19 vouchers, which can be redeemed at accommodation outlets and catering establishments. But the issuing if these vouchers has been delayed until a more appropriate time, when case numbers have gone down again.

Businesses like bars and clubs have no option but to follow the rules – they have been shut down by law. But our behaviour is not so much regulated by law, particularly when it comes to private gatherings among family and friends. It is up to each and every one of us to be responsible and avoid a repetition of what happened over the festive period. Our health cannot be saved by any form of voucher.

We have entered the final stretch with the arrival of the vaccine. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and can finally start looking forward to the day when life will return to normal. But we are not there yet and, until then, we must control ourselves and be responsible.

If we do not, more people will get sick, and more people will die.

It is as simple as that.

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