The Malta Independent 5 December 2021, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Face masks - Politicians and their ignorance of Covid measures

Monday, 18 October 2021, 09:12 Last update: about 3 months ago

One of the cornerstone measures for curbing the Covid-19 pandemic has been the wearing of face masks.

For a number of months, it was mandatory for everyone the moment they stepped outside of their doorstep.  Even now, with over 90% of those eligible being vaccinated against Covid-19, the wearing of face masks is still mandated in certain areas.

Most notably, all students – irrespective of their age – must wear a face mask at all times (so for over 8 hours) while they are at school and in the classroom.  The same is imposed on teachers and other educators who work in those same classrooms.

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Likewise, masks must be worn in retail outlets, in restaurants when one is not at table, at concerts and seated events, and even at sports stadiums, where one – absurdly – cannot even sit in a group even if they are attending the given match as a group.

The wearing of face masks remains recommended in Parliament as well, unless one is addressing the session they are in.

And yet, where MPs and the people in power should be setting an example by following the rules which are in place for them and for others, many of them – including the Prime Minister and Opposition leader – chose to flaunt them during last week’s Budget speech.

The Malta Independent on Sunday reported this weekend about how many MPs throughout Clyde Caruana’s Budget announcement had totally ignored the recommendations on face masks.  A number of them could even be seen, clear as day, in the live broadcast sitting behind Caruana while not wearing a mask.

Health Minister Chris Fearne (who was one of the few who was wearing a mask, at least) has continuously preached about the need for discipline in order to make sure that there isn’t a resurgence in the pandemic.

But how can you ask the people to be disciplined, when your own political colleagues are seen chatting away on Parliament’s biggest annual occasion while ignoring the same regulations which many of us common folk need to follow on a daily basis?

Our newspaper titled the story as seemingly a matter of ‘some animals being more equal than others’ – quoting the old adage about inequality from George Orwell’s Animal Farm – because that is truly what this feels like.

While children and teachers, particularly, have to spend whole working days wearing face masks due to the pandemic, and while the average person needs to wear a mask if they attend somewhere – our parliamentarians feel that it’s fine for them to do away with the mask.

Perhaps this indicates that our politicians don’t believe that wearing a face mask is a necessary measure against the Covid-19 pandemic, in which case then maybe it should be removed for everyone – and not just for them.

Failing that, we hope to see MPs actually respecting the Covid-19 recommendations which are in place. 

Another two big days are coming this week in Parliament, with the Opposition leader’s reaction to the Budget today and the Prime Minister’s reaction tomorrow; there’s no better opportunity to rectify this than then.

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