“This is not a lockdown,” Prime Minister Robert Abela said in an interview on TVM this evening.
He said that he would not describe the announced measures as extreme.
He said that a Cabinet meeting was not only called to meet yesterday about the new measures, but also this morning, “so that everyone was heard, not just those in cabinet, but we also listened to the people.”
The original set of measures announced Thursday evening were more stringent than the final set actually implemented, which allow more freedom for people who are affected by the measures to leave their homes when needed. With the measures implemented for example, those affected by these new measures will be able to leave their homes to purchase food, medicinals and other necessities, and for urgent personal necessities.
“The people told us about the practical problems they would have had with the first version we announced yesterday. We listened to those difficulties and today we issued the final version of the legal notice.”
He stressed that the country does not have a lockdown, neither for the elderly nor the vulnerable people. “There is no lockdown for anyone.”
He said that what the legal notice says is what the government has been saying for the past weeks, that elderly people are more vulnerable to catching the Coronavirus, and if they catch it, they could have more complications. “What we are saying is that for these categories of people, it would be prudent for them not to leave home. But we are not locking people inside.”
“You cannot lock people in a cage. The new law states that 65-year-old people not to leave their home, but if they need to go and buy food, they can, if they need to leave for medical reasons, or to cash a cheque, they can, but observe the social distancing guidelines.” A factsheet with more detailed instructions was issued earlier in the day. “Nobody should leave their homes for no valid reason.”
He stressed that no fines were included in the legal notice, but said that the responsibility lies on the elderly and vulnerable people. “Listen to what we are saying, as it is for your own good. Nobody is saying that if you have animals which are not kept at home, that you cannot go and feed them, but don’t stay near people and go right home once done.”
“If people don’t obey the measures, we will need to increase measures to protect public health.”
He said that people who are living with others who fall under these new measures, if they have the capacity to live elsewhere, are recommended to do so. But if they don’t and the only option is to live in the same residence, then such persons should only go out for work and necessary activities. “Don’t stay going around outside for no reason, as you risk taking the virus into the household. Take care of your loved ones.”