Robert Abela is urging people to remain healthy by going for a walk or a run on their own, or at most, in pairs.

Speaking on One on Sunday morning, the Prime Minister said unless people fell within the vulnerable group, which included those aged over 65, they should exercise and not spend 24 hours locked indoors.

While outside, they should follow social distancing guidance, he added.

Abela said that through its measures, the government had reached a balance between containing the COVID-19 spread and allowing people some freedom so that they could take care of their physical and mental wellbeing.

The situation was still under control and he was satisfied with the low rate of increase in cases. 

A few thousand kilometres away, countries like Italy and Spain had seen spikes in infection and deaths. 

“We have managed to do something that other countries did not manage to do by anticipating the race and starting to run before,” he said.

But while those who tested positive were in good health, the government was not going to sit on its laurels.

It is a time of collective sacrifice, Abela said, adding that the government managed to control the increase in infection without having to implement restrictive measures. This was possible because of people’s cooperation, he said.

“These are unprecedented times – we will look back at this time as the most difficult time since Independence,” the prime minister said. 

Abela noted that increased testing was one of the ways in which the country was managing to control the transmission rate.

The number of daily tests increased from 600 to 800, and with the help of new robotic equipment, results are now out within three hours.

Police should keep up foot patrols after COVID-19

Abela also urged the police to keep up its foot patrolling practice once Malta overcame the pandemic.

He said he has noticed increased foot patrols by police officers.

“I don’t want us to go back to only seeing officers at police stations. The police should be out on the streets, and this is part of the crucial changes we will see in the police force,” he added.

The new process of appointing a Police Commissioner, which will see the government relinquishing its power, was part of the government’s aim to strengthen the rule of law, the prime minister said.

Parliament this week approved the Bill outlining changes in the mechanism being proposed by the government under which the police commissioner will be appointed by a simple majority.

This week parliament also agreed on the nomination of Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti as chief justice, a role he will take up on April 9.

The government believes in rule of law

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, which saw the government prioritising public health, the economy and employment, strengthening the rule of law was still on the state’s agenda, he reassured.

“As a lawyer I’ve always been convinced in the rule of law, so having a strong rule of law comes natural for me,” he said. 

“We will close the chapter on rule of law with success, not just by dealing with our current challenges, but also by being a leading example for other countries.”

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