Prime Minister Robert Abela has announced that with immediate effect, all educational institutions including childcare centres will be kept closed from tomorrow until Friday 20 March, and indicated that depending on developments, the date could be extended. During a media conference at Castille, the Prime Minister also announced a prohibition on all mass activities, and in agreement with football associations, all football matches in both Malta and Gozo will be held behind closed doors without the presence of supporters. The Prime Minister appealed for cooperation from unions, the public and employers, stating that the more united we are as a nation, the quicker we will emerge from this situation.
With immediate effect and at least up to Friday 20 March, all educational institutions, from primary schools to the University, will be kept closed as a means of prevention against the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Childcare centres will also be kept closed, with Prime Minister Robert Abela stating that whilst he understands these decisions will prove difficult for many persons, Government will discuss how it can support those affected, including parents who will be unable to go to work because of the closure of the child care centres. The Prime Minister stated he would not tolerate disobedience of these directives, and is asking for cooperation from everyone, for the good of everyone’s health.
“As a Government, we will definitely not be insensitive to suffering, having at this point those who have to stay with their children and who have to use up their leave in doing so. We are not saying this burden has to be shouldered only by workers. We will discuss until we find solutions which are fair to everyone.”
The Prime Minister stated that no mass activities will be held, and announced that the Labour Party will stop all its activities in order to lead by example. Dr Abela appealed for calm at a time when the country is taking strong preventive action against this virus.
Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne reiterated the appeal for the elderly to remain inside their homes and to avoid contact with others as much as possible. Dr Fearne also appealed to grandchildren not to visit their grandparents if at all possible, as the spread of the virus from children could be strong. Dr Fearne also announced that the POYC scheme will distribute medicines covering a two-month period to 140,000 elderly persons to avoid their having to leave their homes for the medicines. Minister Fearne also announced that the day centres for the elderly will be kept closed, and the helpline service 111 will be augmented to five times its present strength. Dr Fearne further stated that one can call on 21 411 411 for food and medicines to be delivered to one’s home.
Education Minister Owen Bonnici stated that Malta is one of eight European Union countries which are closing down their schools, and announced that in agreement with Matsec, oral examinations at ordinary level will not be held. Dr Bonnici added, however, that if the situation calls for more measures, the Matsec board could review the situation for all examinations. sked whether there were plans for internet lessons for students, Dr Bonnici said the University had drawn up a similar plan for its students, and one has to see what the next step will be for the rest of the students, based on how the situation develops.