The Malta Independent 12 May 2021, Wednesday

TMID Editorial: Covid-19 - A tricky summer ahead

Tuesday, 13 April 2021, 08:38 Last update: about 28 days ago

The Prime Minister's warning on Sunday is one that raises some concern.

Malta has been battling against the Covid-19 pandemic for over a year. The government laid out a financial strategy to aid businesses survive as long as possible, while retaining as many employees as companies could. The government has, through taxpayer funds, quite literally been paying the wages of many workers in Malta.

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But realistically, the war chest only runs so deep.

Regardless of the support businesses have been receiving, some are still struggling to remain afloat. Any tourism related business immediately comes to mind, as do English language teaching schools.

Indeed FELTOM, the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations, said last week that the sector is one of the most terribly hit sectors in the country which has incurred terrible financial losses. It also said that support for schools is imperative if this industry is to survive.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Robert Abela was being interviewed on ONE TV, when he delivered a very worrying message, that Malta could face problems if it loses out on a summer of tourism.

This indicates that Abela is starting to worry about the country's finances. Could our war chest be running low?

The Prime Minister also revealed that the government is discussing more targeted support measures to help the more impacted sectors. 

With the tourism strategy having been announced, and the country gearing up to push safe (hopefully) tourism this summer, the country needs to work as one.

The government blundered last year. It had opened up for summer too fast, decided to let anything go, and sent the country down the path to a terrible second round of Covid. The end result saw many more die, saw infection numbers soar and saw the requirement of very strict restrictive measures to be reintroduced.

The government seems to have learnt from this and, one hopes, that caution will be what leads the country through the summer.

Malta now has the vaccines, and vaccinations are taking place at a steady pace. The number of daily infections is going down.

The government has urged everyone to keep following the health guidelines, and this is important now more than ever. If Malta truly needs a successful summer, then this is the time to think of others, adhere to the guidelines and not be selfish. Anyone attending a party, for instance, could contribute to a spike which would not only be detrimental healthwise, but could have economic consequences.

The next few weeks are crucial, the Prime Minister said. At the same time, while opening up may be crucial, the people's health must take priority. If the authorities see a surge, they need to react far more quickly than they have done in the past in order to keep the situation stable. This summer could be quite a tricky one in terms of finding the balance between tourism and safety.

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