Adrian Delia: 'Let's not backtrack on COVID measures to appease economic sector'

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia appealed for harsher measures and lockdown procedures to prevent Malta from suffering the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia
Opposition Leader Adrian Delia

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia criticised Prime Minister Robert Abela for retracting measures announced by health minister Chris Fearne and public health superintendent Charmaine Gauci on Thursday and said that such a move was populist and aimed to appease the economic sector.

"Let's have the courage to not be populist just because certain economic sectors of society are in disagreement with the measures. We can't simply change the directives of our health experts to be populist at this time. Let's not backtrack on decisions just because they're difficult," Delia said.

On Thursday, Fearne said that people aged over 65 should stay at home and that anyone who shared a residence with such elderly individuals should either do the same or change residency. 

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Delia said that Gauci's and Fearne's announcement was practically a lockdown on 118,000 people and that such a measure wasn't announced on a whim but because health experts were measuring and weighing the Covid-19 epidemic and taking decisions.

"Drastic though they are, such decisions are meant to curb the spread of infection. Unfortunately, a day later, the Prime Minister retracted such a measure, saying that there will be no lockdown and that the elderly could leave their home if necessary. These were good measures.

"I insist that this is not a good decision for the country. We need to take timely and strong decisions. It doesn't matter that the number of infections is low at this juncture. Other countries failed to be rigid and are now suffering the consequences. We cannot risk it. It's better to stay at home and not lose loved ones in the process," Delia said.

He appealed for harsher measures and added that individuals were understanding that sacrifices needed to be made. 

Speaking on the financial package announced by the government to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis, Delia said that over 100,000 employees were not benefitting. He said that the Opposition would continue to speak to unions and social partners and that nobody should have to lose his or her job. 

Addressing foreigners in English, Delia said: "You're no longer foreigners because we're all in the same boat. You have given to our country and we will be giving back. We need to fight this together and win together, but please take heed of what our authorities are saying. Please remain at home."

The Opposition Leader said that in normal circumstances, the government could talk about sustainability and the economy, but that now was not the time for that. 

"Now we need to talk about survival," he said.