Quarantine stock

Enterprise Minister Miriam Dalli is consulting with Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne on the topic of Malta’s mandatory COVID quarantine period as business lobbies call for a reassessment, she revealed on Wednesday.

It comes as Malta’s leading business lobbies have warned that with the current dramatic spread of COVID locally, the current 14-day quarantine period for positive cases and their contacts is “unsustainable.”

Additionally, the Minister confirmed the Government’s decision to extend the wage supplement scheme for businesses impacted by COVID till the end of January, saying it is committed to protect workers and businesses through the resurgence of the pandemic.

She also indicated that the Government would be ready to extend the scheme further if the current pandemic situation persists.

Malta Enterprise CEO Kurt Farrugia provided some details on the support given in schemes for businesses and workers, revealing that €653 million of the €680 million spent has gone into the wage supplement scheme.

Over the course of the pandemic, this scheme provided wages to more that 105,000 employees in more than 17,500 businesses, in the form of an €800 monthly payment.

Isolation rules threaten to push staff shortage into crisis

As Malta reels from yet another day of breaking daily COVID-19 records, with over 1,300 people testing positive between Tuesday and Wednesday and the tally of active cases approaching 9,000, major concern about the impact on the economy due to the number of people in quarantine has been raised.

If each active case lives with at least one person, this would translate into 15,470 individuals in quarantine, with the number certainly being higher when factoring in workplace contacts and entire school classrooms needing to quarantine due to a positive case.

The Times of Malta places a conservative estimate of 30,000 individuals being stuck in isolation this week.

Malta Employers Association Director General Joseph Farrugia said to BusinessNow.mt, following a request for comment:

“The number of people under quarantine is increasing steadily and companies are facing loss in business due to absence from work, loss in sales, and a drop in tourism.”

Over the past week, some countries around the world have altered quarantine rules, prompting many in Malta to question whether the country should go down the same route.

The United States has halved the recommended isolation time for people with asymptomatic COVID-19.

Last week, after pressure from the business community the UK also cut its self-isolation period from 10 days to seven. Quarantine for vaccinated and unvaccinated people who have tested positive for coronavirus can be reduced by three days if they get the all-clear from lateral flow tests.

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