[WATCH] PM: New COVID restrictions ‘difficult but crucial’

Prime Minister Robert Abela says government decisions have always been based on science, and that is why it decided to roll out new coronavirus restrictions

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Prime Minister Robert Abela insisted the decision to introduce new COVID-19 restrictions was a “difficult but crucial” one.

“Our decisions have always been based on science, and that is why we decided to roll out the new measures,” he said on Sunday.

Abela was speaking during a radio interview on party station ONE Radio.

Earlier this week, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that anyone arriving on the island must produce a recognised vaccination certificate from either Malta, the UK or the European Union. English language schools were also ordered to shut down from 14 July.

The decision came amid a sharp rise in cases, which had been detected at nine different English language schools across the country.

Fearne also said the majority of new COVID-19 cases are related to overseas travel, with practically all new infections among people who have not been vaccinated.

Abela insisted the pandemic has remained government’s priority, stating the end of the pandemic will come when the majority of countries around the world are fully vaccinated.

“It was a decision we needed to take, if we want to truly protect our economy,” he said. “Yes, we have and will continue to be criticised for our decision, but the lives and livelihoods of the Maltese are what matters.”

The PM also said that there will be clauses in the legal notice which will be rolled out in the coming hours, which for a limited number of day, will allow Maltese nationals currently abroad to re-enter the country according to the regulations that were in place when they left.

Abela was also asked to comment on the Nationalist Party’s poor results in the latest MaltaToday survey.

The survey showed that both Abela and Grech increased their support with 1.2 points and 1.1 points respectively. Despite the increase, the gap between the two leaders is still at 21 points.

“It shows their lack of credibility,” he said. “That is why they have such results.”

He said their lack of action on important on goings is the reason for their survey results.

“Look at their COVID action team, they were totally dormant. Even when they issued their proposals on what should be done to regulate inbound tourism earlier this week, they were half-baked,” he said.  

The action team is suggesting that any unvaccinated person travelling through Malta ought to be tested for COVID as soon as they step on Maltese soil, even if they have already provided a negative PCR test in their home country.

If the person is vaccinated, they must present a certificate confirming this, together with a negative PCR test up until 72 hours prior to departure.

He also said that the opposition has failed to join government calls for people to get vaccinated.

“Why is that? They either do not believe vaccines are the solution, or they do not want our country to move forward,” he said. “They want to continue with their negative narrative.

After the DBRS ratings agency confirmed Malta’s rating as A (high) stable, Abela said this is the result of carefully laid out decisions by government.

“They referred to our track record in management of public finances and credited our high vaccination rate, saying it was a major factor when rating Malta,” Abela said.

He said government will continue its work to carry out the FATF recommendations. “We will do these changes not because we are forced to, but because we believe it is the right thing to do.”

Abela insisted government formula in balancing out the lives and livelihoods of people, while strengthening the economy is working.

“Property sales have increased by €100 million in a month, while the country is registering less unemployment, during a pandemic, than under any Nationalist administration,” he said.