PM Robert Abela has announced a third set of economic set of measures after a number of constituted bodies as well as economists had expressed their dissatisfaction with the first two packages. Abela described this agreement as a “historical social pact” which was unprecedented, which was befitting an unprecedented situation.
The measures are intended to inject trust in businesses and employment and give a strong message of trust in challenging times. “After darkness, there will be light”, quipped the Prime Minister.
The PM explained that Malta has a war chest that needed to be used responsibly and in a prudent manner.
Government will be covering up to 800 euro a month for workers in the most affected industries, particularly hospitality, retail, food and beverage, transport, creative and entertainment activities as well as the transport sector. This means that workers on the minimum wage will be covered for their full wage. This will affect in excess of 60,000 employees. Employers would be covering the difference up to an income of 1,200 euro per month.
Prime Minister Abela also announced that Government would be supporting other industries such as manufacturing, wholesale and warehousing, with one to two days of salary being covered. 50,000 employees can benefit from this scheme. He called on employers to avoid laying off people as they would have to recruit again and retrain in a few months once the crisis is over. This will cost 17 million euro.
Self-employed persons employing others with them will have three days instead of two covered.
Abela recalled that in cases where both parents work in the private sector and one of them has to stay at home to take care of children, they will receive an 800 euro support grant every month. 12,000 families may benefit from this scheme which will cost 19 million euro.
Applications for eligible businesses can be downloaded from covid19.maltaenterprise.com.
PM Robert Abela is expected to deliver a press conference around 8pm to announce new economic support measures following agreement at MCESD.
In a statement issued by the Bishops of Malta and Gozo, the Church announced the postponement of First Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies. Moreover, the Bishops also advised that Summer feasts – if circumstances allow – will be limited to Sunday pilgrimages only.
In her daily update, Prof Charmaine Gauci announced that Malta only registered three new cases in the past 24 hours. These were identified from 292 swabs, taking the tally to 110.
Prof Gauci insisted that this should not mean we should relax in our approach, since the pandemic is still in its early days in Malta. She cited as an example the Hong Kong experience, which reduced restrictions as soon as numbers first went down and ended up with a bigger spike a few days later.
The new cases were all imported and include:
a) 20-year old female who lives in Malta and returned to Malta on 18th March
b) a second 20-year old female, university student who travelled to London – this is related to a case announced yesterday. She had attended one lecture after her return and fellow students are being contacted for further testing.
c) An American citizen, 49 years old, who lives in Malta, and returned from travel to Austria. The man had immediately self-quarantined.
Health Ministry issues call for pre-fabricated hospital
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry issued a call for the purchase, delivery and installation of a pre-fabricated hospital to be completed within eight weeks. This fully-equipped hospital must be able to host over 90 patients and staff.
A number of towns and villages around the islands looked deserted as a number of retail outlets providing non-essential services and selling non-essential products kept shut as per the new directives issued on Sunday.
The number of affected patients continued to increase and has now reached 107 cases. Since a number of patients were recovering in isolation at home, Government has issued a Legal Notice late Monday evening, raising fines for COVID-positive persons who break isolation orders to EUR 10,000.
While it is understood that Cabinet yesterday evening discussed additional support measures in favour of businesses and jobs, the Chamber of Commerce in a Press Statement noted that a survey conducted amongst members on the existent stimulus package had shown that this needed to be directed more specifically towards more tangible wage support schemes for employers in hard-hit sectors of the economy in order to urgently save jobs and precious resources for local companies.