LIFE IN MALTA DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC
The COVID 19 global pandemic unexpectedly shook economies, with many countries experiencing unprecedented economic losses. The first case of COVID 19 in Malta was discovered on 7th March 2020, which would see the Maltese health authorities impose some guidelines to control the virus’s possible spread. A mandatory two-week quarantine was imposed on all travelers from abroad and people who had contact with them. A mandatory lockdown was also imposed on the vulnerable groups of people: 65years and above, and those suffering from chronic medical conditions. The Maltese government’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID 19 would later receive recognition from WHO, which praised their proactiveness and response to the pandemic.
Although the second wave of the coronavirus in Malta was considered worse than the first one, Malta has never declared a nationwide lockdown and has successfully controlled the virus. According to news sources such as Karl Schranz, Maltese citizens have been responsible for following the health ministry’s guidelines. Online services have also been active in facilitating virtual services to curb the virus’s spread. Most governmental services have also been accessible online and a centralized help center to help its citizens understand the pandemic’s happenings.
Maltese governmental measures and benefits in response to COVID 19
The Maltese government also announced various measures as part of the financial package to help the Maltese economy during the pandemic’s challenging economic times. The government has been focused on easing the pressures on business liquidities, assisting the most vulnerable people during the pandemic, and protecting jobs. Following the pandemic, businesses’ support has been quickly mobilized, and the government’s focus has shifted to economic recovery. On 8th June 2020, the government rolled out an economic recovery plan to reduce business costs, directly support businesses, and encourage domestic consumption. Many people who lost jobs following the pandemic were eligible for a temporary benefit. People with disabilities affected by covid 19 were entitled to benefits for a specified period of months. The Maltese government initiated several benefits to cushion the people affected by covid 19, including businesses disrupted by the pandemic.
The Malta Development Bank has facilitated loans guaranteed by the government to help businesses recover and meet new working capital requirements. The government has also enabled a loan subsidy of 2.5% on bank loans to keep businesses running during the covid 19 and eventually recover. Although most of the applications to the beneficial schemes have since been closed, the Maltese government has taken significant leaps in helping its citizens cope with the pandemic.
Malta’s early decisive action in responding to the pandemic has played a significant role in weathering the pandemic’s economic effects. In the initial phase of the pandemic, the government initiated a quick response by closing the island in the wake of the virus, isolating the most vulnerable groups, and having the third-highest covid 19 screening tests rate globally. The Malta government also was active in repatriating thousands of foreigners who were stranded in the country. As non-essential shops were shut down, some economic activities to keep the country going were in operation, and citizens were always active following the government’s guidelines.
Malta is among the European countries that have faired extraordinarily well amidst a global pandemic.