The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Covid-19 – Politicians should set an example

Thursday, 17 June 2021, 07:59 Last update: about 3 months ago

We are playing with fire and who plays with fire often gets burnt.

Footage and photos of people gathering to celebrate village feasts and other occasions are making the rounds quite regularly on the social media.

Village feasts are (supposed to be) officially banned for the second year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it seems that enthusiasts have found a way to still come together in large groups, often meeting up in band clubs and other places to make merry and have a few drinks. The statue with the patron saint may not be taken around the streets, but the pagan side of our feasts is still very much on the cards.

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Over the past several weeks Malta has managed to bring down the number of Covid-19 cases. From the negative records achieved in March we have moved on to a much better situation and have even registered a few zero cases days. The pressure on the health services has dropped and the authorities have often told us that there are no people with Covid-19 in intensive care. The last time someone died with Covid-19 was three weeks ago, on 25 May. The vaccination campaign is progressing rapidly and the government is gradually and carefully easing restrictions.

But we cannot let our guard down. And the photos and footage that are making the rounds at weekends as people gather to celebrate feasts – not to mention other illegal gatherings that are taking place on public beaches and elsewhere – are raising concern. One wonders what kind of enforcement, if any, is taking place in these circumstances.

What is worse is that politicians are joining the fray. We have seen photos of MPs and candidates, from both sides of the political spectrum, mingling with people and taking selfies for the occasion. Health Minister Chris Fearne has said that ministers informed him that Covid rules were being adhered to, but we are not too sure about that. The photos and footage speak for themselves. Some people are not wearing masks and the two-metre distance is not being followed.

What happened in Santa Venera last year should be kept in mind, but is seems that people forget too easily. What should be realised is that it will not take much for the virus to rear its head again. See what is happening in the UK. There, they planned to ease restrictions too but they had to delay this relaxation of measures because they are seeing the numbers climb up again, and rapidly, too.

And politicians should be the first to set an example. We know that this is the last summer before an election takes place, and all candidates want to appear in as many public places as possible to win the people’s votes. But by taking an active part in such celebrations they are tacitly endorsing them and, added to this, they are being pictured in places where the law is being broken.

The effort that the health authorities have put in, as well as the sacrifices most people have made in these past months, could all be lost unless we all remain vigilant and disciplined.

 

 

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