The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

Sleeping sad

Noel Grima Sunday, 18 July 2021, 08:33 Last update: about 18 days ago

Last Monday, Boris Johnson addressed the nation in a televised press conference.

He began by referring to the event of the previous night. “Last night,” he said, “we all went to sleep sad”.

With this reference to the defeat of the English national team at the Euro 2020 final, he went on to announce that as from today (19 July) the last restrictions due to Covid will be removed.

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He was wrong on Brexit and the UK is still suffering as a result. It is not fair to ascribe the football defeat to him although he tried his best to get involved, including wearing a football top to meet VIPs like Italy’s president.

And who knows how would he have crowed had England won and ‘football came home'. It would have been the final vindication of the whole Brexit process.

Thankfully it was not to be, and the rest of Europe chortled its delight. Nor were things improved by the subsequent reports of mayhem at and after the final and the massive racism invective directed at the three coloured players who fumbled the penalty kicks.

The massive crowds of maskless crowds at the final (also in Italy) showed how people have grown impatient following the Covid protocol and now that more and more people have been vaccinated, many seem to have decided enough is enough. Like Johnson they have decided to remove the restrictions unilaterally if needed regardless of consequences and with just the flimsiest of reasons. People like Boris Johnson follow the crowds rather than lead it.

Thank God, we do not have this kind of leaders, whatever their other faults may be. In the UK the rate of infections is vertically spiralling up, reaching 36,000 and more a day and maybe arriving to two million or so in the coming weeks.

But despite all this spiral, and despite misgivings by many doctors, the unravelling of restrictions goes on.

Here in Malta, anger erupted as the number of infected people rose and rose, mostly foreigners and mostly students. And the government reacted. It shut language schools and imposed vaccine certifications for those who want to enter Malta.

Not everything was done as it should have been and many people have been stranded either here or abroad or even faced huge bills. There were many crossed wires. Now after some delays things are getting clearer and stranded students will be repatriated.

As for the language schools, things have been getting worse these past years. At the beginning, the industry relied on host families which then gave up trying to impose rules on those who only wanted to enjoy themselves with minimum supervision.

Malta came to be seen as the holiday island where testosterone reigned supreme in a reasonably safe environment. In these Covid times it proved impossible to expect hotels to exercise discipline on those who came here to party.

Along with a host of things, this situation must be redressed. It is still possible to come here to learn English (or any other language) with due respect to the residents of this island especially at night-time and obeying the Covid rules of this country rather than the rules, if any, of their country of origin.

We like to welcome people, including students, as long as the rules and restrictions are respected. Malta will not become the landfill of other people. We already have enough problems of our own as it is.

 

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