[WATCH] Adrian Delia: ‘Lockdown now before it’s too late’

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia has joined unions and associations in their appeal for an immediate lockdown in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic

Adrian Delia at a press conference on Covid-19 at the PN headquarters
Adrian Delia at a press conference on Covid-19 at the PN headquarters

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia has called for an immediate lockdown in light of the coronavirus epidemic.

In a press conference amidst social partners, Delia said that he agreed with various unions, associations and medical professionals calling for a lockdown.

“It’s now needed more than ever for our country to be in lockdown before it’s too late,” he said, adding that he was in talks and consultation with various unions and social partners to come up with proposals for the national interest.

Delia had last week requested parliament to suspend the agenda and to discuss the coronavirus but Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia denied his request.

At a press conference on Saturday, Prime Minister Robert Abela once again insisted that a lockdown would spell “too drastic” a reaction. He described a potential lockdown as akin to a “house arrest” and that such a measure would hurt families and vulnerable individuals who could not be expected to be on their own.

At the PN headquarters, Delia said that he was in disagreement with the government’s stance and that he agreed with doctors in their appeal for the airport and cruise ports to close.

“We should provide for a very limited window for Maltese residents to return to their country but then we should close our borders,” Delia said.

The Superintendence for Public Health, Charmaine Gauci, announced on Saturday morning that Malta had registered six new cases of Covid-19 since the night before. These were not cases of local transmission, she said, but all imported from abroad.

Delia said that Malta’s ageing population, arguably the most vulnerable to succumbing to the virus, should be taken into special consideration by the government when announcing new measures.

“Due to our dense population, we suggested the limitation to physical contact. The government welcomed some of our suggestions, including the closure of schools and that public service workers work remotely.

“On the suggestion of the Opposition, the government also insisted that public transport buses not accept people standing on vehicles to limit crowding. We also suggested that the government uses the army to bring supplies to the elderly,” Delia said.

He added that now is the time to keep in contact with businesses for the sake of new solutions at the time of such a crisis.

Abela announced on Saturday a number of economic initiatives, including the postponement of provisional tax, VAT and social security contributions for both self-employed and employers for the months of March and April to improve the liquidity of companies.