[WATCH] Return to normality approaching if people remain disciplined - Robert Abela

If people cooperate and obey the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the country could soon emerge from the current situation, Prime Minister Robert Abela said

Prime Minister Robert Abela was interviewed on One TV on Easter Sunday
Prime Minister Robert Abela was interviewed on One TV on Easter Sunday

Malta could emerge from the COVID-19 situation soon if people remain disciplined and obey the partial lockdown measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, the Prime Minister said.

An optimistic Robert Abela said Malta was not yet at the point when it could return to normality, but that it was approaching that moment.

Abela, who was speaking in an interview on One TV on Easter Sunday, stressed that people had to continue to cooperate and must avoid leaving their home except for work or to run important errands.

He appealed to people to stay home today, and said that letting down one's guard at this point in time would be "a big mistake."

"We are approaching the moment when we could start returning to normality, but that moment is not here yet. We need to stay home and go out only when this is really needed," Abela said.

"If we are disciplined, we can emerge from this soon," he said, underlining that he was cautiously optimistic, positive, and had faith in the abilities of the Maltese people. "We are very resilient during difficult periods... these are the moments where we've shown what a united people we are."

He said that, even if Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci announced this afternoon that only a small number of new coronavirus cases were registered overnight, this simply meant that the country was keeping the situation under control. "It doesn't mean people can go out because it is Sunday. This would be a big mistake - so I appeal to people to stay home and go out only for important reasons."

Migrant rescue boats block 'in best interest of society'

Regarding the government's decision yesterday to prevent migrant rescue charities and other vessels from bringing into Malta people rescued at sea, Abela said this was taken "in the best interest of Maltese society."

He said the decision to block rescue boats from entering the island's ports wasn't taken on racial grounds, and reflected the measures put in place to prevent people from travelling to and from Malta by air and sea.

"It's not because we don't want people from Libya or Africa... we did this to everyone coming from anywhere in the world," he said, as he pointed out that even travel between Malta and Sicily had been stopped, while that between Malta and Gozo had been restricted.

"The reality is that we couldn't maintain a situation of continued migrant influx which would endanger the country's resources. The army cannot divert its focus [from COVID-19] to carry out rescue operations," he added.