Prime Minister Robert Abela has said that he wants Malta to be back to business as usual by May.
Speaking during a political activity on Sunday, Abela said that Malta will welcome January with vaccine in hand, indicating that Malta will have the Covid-19 vaccine at around that time, but added this will not mean that all the Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted in January.
The Prime Minister said that Malta will be able to start at the front of the field due to the success of the country’s handling of the pandemic.
“By March I want to see that our economy would be recovering well and by May I want to see us as in a position of business as usual and speaking about Covid-19 as something of the past.”
The Prime Minister pledged that Malta will be the first country to recuperate from the pandemic.
“We will start January with a vaccine in hand and vouchers for people to spend.”
He expressed his wish to see next summer filled with tourism, to see people travelling again and foreign direct investment to continue in Malta. “I want to see restaurants and bars packed with people again in Summer and I want our elderly to again meet their children and grandchildren without worries. I want Malta and Gozo as we always knew them.”
Abela said that Europe is going through a very hard period, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, mentioning the thousands of deaths across the continent. “You can say Europe is in lockdown everywhere,” he said, adding that there are many countries that have imposed curfews. “Spain has declared an emergency until May. In Greece you need to SMS the authorities to leave your home.” He said that thousands of people in Germany need intensive care. “Yet here in Malta, I can come here and say that we managed to reduce unemployment to under 3,000. The lowest unemployment rate since last March. In Malta, the hospitals kept up with the demand, and this is because we looked ahead. The rate of infections remained stable, unlike what happened elsewhere all over Europe.”
He said that the government achieved this by being cautious and through a sense of leadership, “the courage to take decisions.”
He said that Malta worked differently to elsewhere, finding the balance and letting people live their lives as much as possible.
He said that despite everything, the Opposition was not pulling the same rope during this pandemic.
He criticised the PN for creating a Covid action team so many months after it the pandemic actually hit, “yet we are still waiting to know what action they will take. Have you heard anything from them? Nothing.”
Abela said that he feels for all those families who experienced a death in the family. He said that he is pleased that the government did all it can to keep people’s health at the forefront.
During his speech, he also congratulated Cardinal Mario Grech on his new appointment and wished him well.
Turning to the eventual Covid-19 vaccine, he said that the government is ensuring that there will be enough vaccine doses for the whole population. “It will be people’s decision to take it or not. My appeal is to think of the country collectively and not just about ourselves.”
He criticised a PN MP Maria Deguara for saying that the vaccine is not the solution.
“If she was health minister, what would she do?”
He said that the solution for the PN in the past was a lockdown, “to lock people up. Their solution was to keep shops closed. Today I will say that they do not have a solution. They have not understood the reality, and the importance of keeping the balance between saving lives and livelihoods.”
He said that those who own bars and clubs are carrying a heavier burden than others, given that they are currently closed. He said the government will keep helping them. I just gave direction for those bars and clubs closed at the beginning of November to take the wage supplement and this will be backdated to the beginning of November.