Mitigation measures against the Covid-19 pandemic for the month of March will be based on “caution”, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Thursday while speaking to journalists.
Asked about the government’s plans for mitigation measures in March will be given that certain measures – such as the closure of bars – expire at the end of this month, Abela said that the position for March will be a cautious one.
“We aren’t going to run off and remove all the measures we have at the moment as I don’t think that would be prudent”, Abela said.
He said that from what the government is seeing, it is clear that the situation must be handled with cautiousness. Things must be handled in such a manner that the strong momentum being built in the vaccine programme continues, but that what has been achieved so far is not prejudiced.
He noted that the month of March also brings the feast of St. Patrick – a wildly popular social occasion during normal times – and that one has to be cautious to make sure that one does not descend back to the situation from a couple of months ago immediately after the Christmas period.
He said that the thinking for March is to start off the road for economic recovery, but that this means keeping the medical situation under control and vaccinating as many people as possible.
Abela also revealed that the government is in discussions to extend the government wage supplement beyond the end of March – which is when it was set to expire.
Cannabis reform: government going forward with proposals for legal amendments
Abela also revealed that the government will be putting forward a white paper which proposes an increase in the maximum amount of cannabis which can be carried and the removal of the need to face the Drugs Tribunal if caught with less than that amount.
The Prime Minister said that the legal amendments will be discussed in Cabinet soon, but that the direction that the government wishes to take is clear.
He recalled cases of youths who were still studying but were caught with a small amount of cannabis and had to go through the “humiliation” of facing the whole court process. “I don’t want this to continue”, Abela said.
However, Abela pledged that the government will not be going to extremes.
He said that the direction that the government will be taking is for the permitted amount of possession of cannabis will increase a bit from 3.5 grams, and that anyone caught in possession with less than the stipulated amount would not face the drugs tribunal.
He said that the government is also in discussion on allowing a “non-excessive” number of cannabis plants to be grown.
“It cannot be that a youth caught with a joint is taken to the police station, arrested, interrogated and then hauled to court or a tribunal. I don’t think that is the way forward – but we have to be responsible. We need to balance, but I don’t think that our youths should go through that”, Abela said.