Upstanding citizens following the rules

Saviour Balzan | Next time the government comes out with a call for voluntary vaccination in the midst of another serious medical crisis, they should not expect the public to be so understanding

There has always been a catch with being an upright citizen. I guess the best example has been the sudden change of heart by the government on the vaccination requirements, and the usefulness or necessity of a vaccine pass and booster dose.

Let me be very clear: I have never once doubted the importance of a vaccine. Those that do, have a limited knowledge what vaccines do and act.

And all those who have waged war against the vaccine have always turned out to be grossly misinformed and lacking in the appreciation of science and the facts. Malta has in general upheld COVID regulations and the huge take-up of the vaccine is a national show of appreciation for the long-lasting value of vaccination, and science itself.

Most people have done their bit in supporting science and not questioning the government’s agenda in its drive to vaccinate most of the population. But the last weeks have been full of contradictions.

The government campaigned aggressively in the last two years for adults and teens to take the vaccine and then the booster, and for under-12s to take a double dose of the vaccine; and then just only after a few weeks, announced that the vaccine certificate would not be a requisite and that it would not be a requirement for under-12s to show proof of vaccination. After intense campaigns encouraging parents to give the booster to their chil-dren, we witnessed a massive U-turn and the surprising decision that under-12s would be excluded from the restrictions, and not required to show a vaccination certificate.

It showed how insensitive the government was to all those parents who diligently pushed their very young children to take the vaccine.

To add insult to injury, the enforcement of regulations slackened across the board.

For example, in all the restaurants I have been to, no one has asked me for the vaccination certificate. Many people have repeated the same story. This neither-here, nor-there situation happens as the number of recorded deaths has increased.

No matter what is said, the last weeks has seen the largest number of recorded deaths. And it seems no one is really worried or cares much. The families that have lost their loved ones are too emotionally caught up with daily life to talk of the apparent contradictions in government policy.

The news of more relaxation in the COVID restrictions was understandably praised by the anti-vaxxers, represented by a motley crowd of far-rightist and some loony-leftists, some ecologists, esoteric types, and many conspiracy-theorists, and of course part of the business community.

The truth is that mortalities do not seem to dampen the resolve of people to continue with their lives and not give a damn about those who die or are seriously ill because of COVID.

Nothing will of course change the decisions taken at govern-ment level, to go back on their U-turn on regulations – not because of science, but simply because of electoral exigencies.

If this were not enough, the other point to consider is related to quarantine restrictions and the deliberate actions of so many who conceal their COVID infection, or who decided to flaunt quarantine rules by lying to their family, friends and the workplace.

And I say this because I personally experienced three consecutive 14-day quarantines last year and I was obliged to respect the law. But I know many who did not and who simply ignored the rules and did exactly what suits them.

Which goes to show that being a sucker for rules and regulations does not always pay off. So the next time the government comes out with a call for voluntary vaccination in the midst of another serious medical crisis, they should not expect the public to be so understanding. Let us not be surprised that, together with the band of anti-vaxxers, there will be normal folk who will be simply unwilling to take the health authorities seriously anymore.


Joseph Muscat on Saturday afternoon, keen to grab the Sunday headlines, went on Facebook complaining about unfair treatment to hit out at the alleged leaks from Magistrate Gabriella Vella’s inquiry. He had no qualms pointing directly at Repubblika’s chief Robert Aquilina and their lawyer, the Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi, for their apparent knowledge of the raid on his home.

This was not vintage Muscat. Historically, he always steered clear of mentioning people by name. Now he seems to be in a fix.

He also complained at the decision of Magistrate Marseanne Farrugia’s decision to postpone a case against Maria Efimova sine die, instead of having the former Pilatus employee who gave birth to the Egrant story, extradited.

Yet more importantly he declared that he wanted to see ‘Il-Moviment’ – Labour’s so-called 2013 game-changing majority – to continue to flourish, and that he would do everything to see this happen.

That demolished any claim by PN pundits that he would be knee-capping Robert Abela’s electoral ambitions.

But Muscat tried hard to convince his audience of his true and noble intentions when carrying out a consultancy that could have landed him with a good deal of cash from a company that had been directly linked to Stewards. There is no doubt in my mind that many of his admirers will agree with his argumentation. It is only his former aides and colleagues and friends who supported and believed entirely in him in the past who are aware of how lame his narrative is sounding.

Perhaps the question should be: what else does Joseph Muscat know that he needs to keep setting the narrative out there, for his loyal followers to ration-alise the changing events that are taking place?