Prime Minister tells parliament health authorities have not called for new COVID-19 measures

Prime Minister Robert Abela says no new coronavirus restrictions will be introduced in the near future, despite a rise in new cases locally and abroad • Urges people to get vaccinated

Prime Minister Robert Abela (file photo)
Prime Minister Robert Abela (file photo)

Health authorities have not called for new COVID-19 restrictions, amid the rise in cases across Europe, Prime Minister Robert Abela told parliament on Monday.

“We have a stable situation inside our country’s hospitals, and so the introduction of new measures is not needed,” Abela said during the budget estimates debate of the Office of the Prime Minister.

Countries across Europe like the Netherlands and Austria have initiated new lockdown measures following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

He also said health experts have called on government not to  lift any further restrictions.

“We need to continue taking the vaccine, we need to continue to taking the booster dose,” he said, urging the few people who are resisting the vaccine to take it.

The Prime Minister said there is a clear correlation between countries with successful vaccine rollouts, and those who are experiencing economic recovery. "What we do now, will determine our immediate and distant future, that is why we have to remain vigilant," he said.

On immigration, Abela said the phenomenon remains an ongoing challenge.

“The Home Affairs Minister and I coordinate on a daily basis. It is an ongoing phenomenon, and it will not stop anytime soon,” he said.

He said the Maltese authorities established a number of agreements with Libya to limit the number of boat crossings.

"This summer, Lampedusa received 2,000 migrants in one day. We need to speak about the facts, and the facts are that Malta cannot shoulder all the weight alone," Abela said.

Malta has always insisted within the EU that the problem lies at Libya’s southern borders. "We need a European-wide, and holistic solution."

He called out the Opposition leader for having stated the country was not full.

On the economy, the PM said despite warnings by the Opposition, ratings agency continue to give Malta a good outlook. “This contrasts with the picture the Opposition is trying to paint of the country.”

He said Malta continues to receive large amounts of foreign investment. "The reality is that all you want is that the economic machine created by this government comes to a grinding halt," he accused the Opposition.

Abela said this administration will continue striving to improve the country’s competitiveness.

He also said the Malta Gaming Authority had more applications in 2021 than in the previous year.

"More came, and fewer left, as opposed to what you had predicted," he said, directing his statement towards the Opposition.

He also called out the PN for saying this was a pre-election budget. "You had said we were not convinced of the budget. You believed your own spin and talked about an impending general election... we are here voting for the budget and we will implement it," Abela said.

He also took a pot shot at Bernard Grech and the PN's position against the cannabis reform, insisting the Opposition leader's previous position in which he tried taking credit for the reform was based on convenience and not conviction.