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Prime Minister Robert Abela has excluded the possibility of Malta introducing a lockdown to stem the spread of COVID-19.

He was responding to questions from the press following his address at a Business Breakfast in Gozo, where he reiterated that Government is discussing the increase of fines for non-observance of COVID rules.

Dr Abela said that upon his return to Malta today, discussions will also continue to be held with the Health Authorities on the introduction of new restrictions, and that the outcome of such discussions will be publicly announced “in the coming hours”.

On the possibility of a lockdown to act as a “circuit breaker” against the rising COVID cases, which reached a new record on Tuesday at 336, Dr Abela said that the Government has been consistent in its opposition to introducing a lockdown, despite sustained pressure.

“I believe that the way forward continues not to include the introduction of a lockdown. We must continue to strike a balance between protecting lives and livelihoods. Let us not forget that many people’s livelihoods are dependent on their commercial establishments remaining open.

“With this in mind, we will ensure that measures to be announced respect this delicate balance, refraining from draconian restrictions but ensuring they are effective,” Dr Abela said in comments to the press.

The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) on Tuesday called for stricter enforcement of current measures, cautioning that a soft lockdown may be a last resort which may have to be employed should the case numbers fail to be reigned in.

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and the Association of Catering Establishments have both called on the Government to ensure enforcement of current measures are carried out in full.

The Malta Association of Public Health Medicine has warned that the intensive treatment unit at Mater Dei Hospital only has a “handful of beds left”, and calling for more measures, said, “unless [Malta] make sacrifices now, [it] will end up suffering even more”. 

The Association points out that other countries have gone into lockdown in response to far lower rates of infection that there are now in Malta. However, it maintains that it is not advocating for a full lockdown, only the introduction of “stricter measures”. 

On Wednesday, Malta registered 233 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of active cases to 3,000.

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