Comment by Philipp Sauerborn:
Currently, there is no other topic that dominates the media more than the coronavirus or Covid-19, a virus that is spreading rapidly and terrifying the population and the economy. It is precisely at such times that governments are more than ever in demand to prove themselves worthy and effective. As many of my clients are currently asking me questions about the situation here in Malta and how people and governments behave, I would like to dedicate this analysis to give you, readers, a status-update and give you four reasons why I feel very safe and well protected here.
#1 The Acting Government
The first point I would like to make is a brief excursion into the use of language: The difference between reacting and acting.
Reacting describes what other circumstances demand of me when a certain situation has already occurred. Acting, on the other hand, is used when the first step is taken and the actor can still decide independently what to do.
The principle should, therefore, be acting rather than reacting, and I think the Maltese Government is doing an excellent job of that. Why?
The Maltese government was the fastest in taking action: it arranged for flights to and from risk areas to be completely banned after “only” three people tested positive for Covid-19. It was thus one of the first to take action with such a small number of cases. Similarly, it was decided before other countries to close kindergartens and schools. Similarly, a two-week quarantine period is now in force for all persons entering Malta, with fines being imposed for violations
Even though southern countries are sometimes known for their rather relaxed way of accepting and doing things, this situation is anything but relaxed here. I know from acquaintances that the telephone/helpline supply is well regulated when it comes to questions about COVID-19. There is this helpline where questions can be asked and to which people in quarantine can also be directed. The government has also set up a delivery service for food for people in quarantine to minimize the need to leave the house.
#3 The behavior of the population
Yes, the coronavirus terrifies us. But instead of panicking or seeing the seriousness of the situation, most people here act with great caution and many precautions are taken. For example, doors in our office are left open so that we don’t have to use door handles, disinfectants can be found in almost every store and security personnel in supermarkets make sure that fresh goods that are touched are not put back. Scare tactics? No. In my opinion, these are exactly the right actions that need to be taken to contain the spread of the virus. People here, and especially the elderly population. I find that remarkable.
#4 The Economy
Malta has achieved a budget surplus due to its good economic management, which, according to Silvio Schembri, Minister of Economy Malta, enables the state to provide liquidity to companies. It was announced that the maturity of VAT, Provisional Tax and Social Security contributions will be extended by two months, leaving entrepreneurs with more money to cover upcoming costs such as personnel costs.
All in all, I must say that, due to the behavior of the government and the people, I feel very well looked after and safe. There is no reason for concern and the economic sector, in particular, is well supplied having considered and implemented adequate liquidity measures.
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