The Malta Independent 17 May 2022, Tuesday

Covid measures to start being relaxed from first week of February – Prime Minister

Albert Galea Sunday, 23 January 2022, 12:27 Last update: about 5 months ago

Malta’s Covid-19 measures will start to be relaxed from the first week of February as part of a plan which the government will announce in the coming days, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday.

Speaking during a political event in Gozo, Abela said that owing to the high percentage of people who have received the Covid-19 booster, the time has come for measures to start to be reduced.

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The Prime Minister also said that the time has come for a discussion in Malta to take place on when to draw the line between considering Covid-19 as a pandemic or as endemic, which would mean that it would be considered on par with the common cold or influenza.

Abela was full of criticism for his political counterpart PN leader Bernard Grech, as he accused Grech of being a “populist” and of not wanting the country to return to normality.

“I don’t understand how Bernard Grech can be so populist,” Abela said.

“We put implemented restrictions based on the vaccine certificate – we weren’t the first country to do it; many other EU ones have the same regulations – and his first reaction was that he agrees with the decision of health authorities. Then some days later, he turned his views upside down, and said that they are an inquisition on people’s liberties,” he said.

“Because someone pulled his string, he changed his views.  He realised that we wanted to give boosters to people as soon as possible so that we can get back to normality, and he does not want us to go towards normality,” the Prime Minister said.

He said that the PN had never encouraged people to get the booster, and that the government’s strategy to tie certain things to the vaccine certificate had worked, because vaccination rates had exploded upwards.

Abela also criticised the PN for the set of laws which it has tabled in Parliament for discussion.

“They said that these are laws against corruption.  But when you read them, you see that their main aim is to introduce fear within business, paralyse the economy, and introduce uncertainty.  You didn’t manage to stagnate the economy in a pandemic, you’re going to manage now?,” Abela said.

The Prime Minister claimed that the PN wants to introduce a law “which recognises Malta as a mafia-state.” “To that, I say you have no chance,” Abela said.

He also accused Grech of working against Malta at an EU level when it comes to the gas pipeline to the country, and questioned what he would tell voters when they ask about removing the floating gas storage unit in Delimara.

Turning his attention to the upcoming general election, Abela said that the government’s mandate ends in June and warned that attacks will definitely increase.

“They will not be debates on a policy level. They will be frontal, personal, and direct attacks because these are people who believe in these attacks,” Abela said.

“The opposition has nothing more to offer than division and hate.  They divided their own party.  We aren’t going to let them divide our country,” he said.

He called on voters to forget about the surveys, and that the “race starts at 0-0.”

Being in Gozo, Abela also spoke briefly about the government’s track record in Gozo, saying that it had increase employment on the sister island fourfold compared to where it was in 2012.

He also batted away criticism that the bulk of that employment was with the public service, noting how the number of people employed in Gozo in professional services, IT, and financial services had increased from 700 to 2,700.

PL MEP Alex Agius Saliba also addressed the event, saying that Abela had managed to win Malta’s reputation back “massively” through reforms to strengthen the country’s rule of law.

PL candidate Rebecca Buttigieg also addressed the event.

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