[WATCH] PM announces lifting of public health emergency

France, Spain, Poland, and Greece among new countries added to Malta’s safe travel list • Restrictions on all flight destinations to be lifted on July 15 

Prime Minster Robert Abela
Prime Minster Robert Abela
Posted by Partit Laburista on Sunday, 14 June 2020

Malta will no longer be in a state of a public health emergency, Prime Minister Robert Abela has said.

The announcement was made during the Prime Minister’s weekly Sunday address in an interview on the Labour Party’s television station, ONE Television.

Abela fielded questions from MaltaToday online editor Kurt Sansone, The Malta Independent’s Neil Camilleri and NET News journalist Christine Amaira.

The PM said that the decision to lift the public health emergency stems from the country’s low number of active COVID-19 cases, which until the time of the interview stood at 36.

The public health emergency was declared in March, giving the superintendent of public health, Charmaine Gauci, wide-ranging powers to take all measures necessary to eliminate the threat of COVID-19.

Asked if the decision would be affecting the use of face masks and social distancing measures, the PM said that such guidelines will remain in action.

“While there will be no legal obligation, as it was before, I recommend people keep on abiding by such guidelines for now,” Abela said.

The lifting of the public health emergency will also see restrictions on gatherings of over 75 people removed.  

The PM also announced that more countries have been added to Malta’s safe flight list.

The new countries are Italy (excluding airports in the northern regions), France, Spain, Poland, Croatia and Greece.

Malta’s airport is set to open on 1 July.

The PM  also announced that all flight restrictions will be lifted on 15 July. 

Abela said that Israel has been removed from the list, due to new updates in regards to the monitoring of the coronavirus in the country.

MaltaToday’s Kurt Sansone asked the PM on the lack of measures aimed at attracting tourists to Malta following the airport’s reopening.

Robert Abela said that the Malta Tourism Association will be tasked with doing such a job, with the government allocating a generous budget for this to be carried out.

“Tourism forms one third of the country’s GDP, and so the government acknowledges the role that such a sector holds in the country’s economic success,” he said.

The PM was also asked why the electricity subsidy for businesses was not extended to all families in the country.

“Government has issued other measures to help families including the issuing of €100 in vouchers to all people aged 16 or more, and the reduction of fuel prices,” he said.

Abela insisted that the budget was focused on reigniting businesses following the slowdown brought about by the pandemic.

“If we are safeguarding businesses, we are safe guarding jobs, and if we safeguard jobs it means that families will have more money in their pockets,” he said.

He also pointed out that while people have started to return to their normal ways, he is not content with the situation businesses in Valletta find themselves in, stating government will be issuing a set of measures aimed at reversing the trend.

In response to a question fielded by the NET News journalist, Abela stated that former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, had a role to play in the drawing up of the recovery plan.

“We listened and discussed with a number of stakeholders from all walks of life, some of the former PM’s suggestions were implemented,” Abela said.

On unemployment in the country, Abel said that figures show that it has remained relatively low, comparing statistics with the 2013 Nationalist administration, with unemployment levels twice as high at the time.

Chris Cardona and the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation

Asked what the former economy minister Chris Cardona’s next steps will be after claims were made in court by Caruana Galizia murder middleman Melvin Theuma about Cardona's alleged role in the journalist's slaying.

“I am sure that Chris Cardona will be taking the necessary steps to what’s best for the party and the country,” the PM said.

On the Money Val report, the PM said that government’s priority will be that of ensuring that recommendations made are adhered to, with the nominations of Angelo Gafa as next police commissioner a testament to that.

“I will be stressing that prosecutions are carried out, and the next police commissioner will be tasked with carrying out the necessary investigations,” he said.

He also called on the PN to be part of Gafa’s grilling by the public appointments committee, stating it would be a mistake for the opposition not to do so.

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