COVID measures must not constrain individual freedom – PN

MP David Agius says the new vaccine exemptions are an improvement, but more needs to be done to protect individual freedom

The relaxation of new COVID-19 measures are an improvement, but they can be made better, the Nationalist Party said on Friday.

“We need to make sure no measure constrains individual freedom,” deputy party leader David Agius said. “We’re in favour of the vaccine, we want a strong health system, but we are also in favour of individual freedom.”

Party leader Bernard Grech had already endorsed new rules introduced to limit entry to restaurants, bars, gyms, sports events and other venues to adequately vaccinated people.

On Thursday, his stance took a U-turn. He instead called for a repeal of mandatory vaccination for hospitality industry patrons while ensuring an “adequate balance between public health and people’s liberties”.

Grech’s U-turn drew criticism from the Labour Party, accusing him of playing political games. However, his Facebook post attracted hundreds of comments in support of his stance.

One man said: “I was eagerly waiting for this message, finally… we have someone that really stands up for people. Those without the booster aren’t going to be allowed to go and vote? That’s what I want someone to answer for me. Because then for votes it’s not a problem not to have a booster.”

Last December, the Health Ministry announced that only fully vaccinated people will be allowed to access restaurants, cafes, gyms and other public places as from 17 January.

The vaccine will be mandatory for staff working in the hospitality sector who have direct contact with clients. Health Minister Chris Fearne said that there will be a grace period until February for staff who have not yet received their booster dose.

Fearne said that there were no plans to make a certificate mandatory in other sectors or to introduce a mandatory vaccination. He made clear that there were no plans to make it mandatory in the health sector.