Childcare centres, SkolaSajf expected to reopen when next set of COVID-19 restrictions lifted - PM

Reopening of childcare centres and SkolaSajf will be a step in the right direction for country to return to normality, Robert Abela says

Prime Minister Robert Abela was speaking during an interview on One TV this morning
Prime Minister Robert Abela was speaking during an interview on One TV this morning

Childcare centres and SkolaSajf will be amongst the facilities which will reopen when it comes for the next set of COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted, Robert Abela said.

The Prime Minister emphasised that children's routines had to be put back in place, and people had to return to work for the country to really return to normality.

Abela, who was speaking during an interview on One TV on Sunday, said the medical figures backed the government's approach of lifting restrictions.

"In the next set of measures, we will reopen childcare centres and SkolaSajf. This will mean more parents, to whom we gave wage supplements to stay at home with their children [during the coronavirus lockdown] can return to work," he said.

"The message to the people is one: we have to return to the normality of work. The reopening of childcare centres will be a good step in this direction - but we also have a lot of workers who are still home. The incentive we must give is to show that it is in their, their children's, and the country's advantage that they go back to work."

"The medical figures are encouraging. Let's return to full normality sooner rather than later."

Wage supplement to remain in place until businesses return to normal

Abela said that the wage supplement, which workers in certain sectors are receiving, would not be stopped overnight. "It will remain in place until businesses return to normality."

At the same time, he said the supplement couldn't continue forever, and that the government was now looking at different ways of incentivising a return to economic growth.

"Now is the moment to send a signal that the economy must start moving again... We have to show people that it will be to their benefit that they start spending again. Spending wisely makes the economy go round, and every euro spent will come back to them... It is not the time to leave money in banks but to invest wisely," he said.

The country is now entering the phase of economic recovery, he highlighted. "The same philosophy which guided us in previous years will guide us into the future."

'Waves are in the sea' pun now backed by scientific evidence

The Prime Minister said that a "pun" he had made last week about a possible second wave of COVID-19 - when he said "waves are in the sea" - was now backed by scentific evidence of the low rate of transmission since measures started being lifted on May 4 and May 22.

He said that, from 7 March to 7 April - when only around one-third to half of the number of tests being done currently were being carried dout - the rate of positive cases compared to the amount of tests was at 2.7%. But while testing has now increased substantially, the rate has in fact dropped to 0.7%.

"I said waves are in the sea - that was a pun. From May 7, however, we started increasing testing, but the rate of new positive cases when compared to the number of tests kept decreasing, and is now at 0.7%. So we're not talking about puns now - it's science."

Abela said that the success Malta had had in controlling the spread of the coronavirus could not be underemphasised.

"We are now at the forefront compared to other countries when it comes to relaxing measures because we had started controlling the spread of the virus early. Now that it's under control, we can lift measures ahead of other countires."

He appealed for people's trust that the measures were being lifted based on science.

"For every measure we lift, there is science supporting the decision."