Malta's strategy for rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine will be announced on Monday, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday.
Addressing a political gathering in Marsaxlokk, Abela said that while the government will be unveiling its strategy to distribute the vaccine, the public will have to continue observing the restrictive measures in place until the authorities direct otherwise.
Health authorities will start administering the vaccine in January, with front liners and the most vulnerable expected to be the first to be inoculated.
Abela told the party faithful that his deputy, Health Minister Chris Fearne will be briefing the public on the roll-out strategy which has been drafted in collaboration with leading healthcare experts.
The prime minister said that while he wanted 2021 to be among the best years the country had ever experienced, the country would not get there if the public had a lax attitude towards the virus.
“There is light [at the end of the tunnel] but we must remain vigilant if we want to get there,” he said.
Abela reiterated previous remarks that he expected Malta to be “back to business as usual” come May.
The government, he said, could have stayed in its comfort zone and blamed all its woes on the Coronavirus pandemic. But then the country would today be facing a lower credit rating. Instead, he was proud to say that credit ratings firm Fitch had just scored Malta at A+.
While other EU states register record unemployment and crashing economies, he said, Malta was on track to one of its best employment records in history.
Fitch, Abela said, had even commended Malta on it reforms on the judiciary and rule of law, which the agency said had “accelerated” since he took office in January.
“Today everyone agrees that institutions are working, in an effective way,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said, Malta had an Opposition leader that had not even announced his shadow cabinet yet.
“Perhaps he’ll give us that as a Christmas present,” Abela quipped.
Abela again hit out at the Opposition for being “jealous of economic growth”. The Opposition, he said, was trying to stifle investment, but the government was committed to seeing a number of large hotel developments delivered as these would ensure more jobs.
The country does not like u-turns, he said, accusing the Opposition of flip-flopping on the proposed Malta-Gozo permanent link.
Today it was unclear whether the Nationalist Party would support a tunnel to the sister isle, and this made people feel uneasy, he said.
“If you were to ask what the PN’s position is on this today, nobody knows,” Abela said.
Running the audience through his past week, the prime minister listed the lessons he had learnt over the past few days.
Recalling his day with a girl with intellectual disability to raise awareness about inclusion, Abela said her wish was to find a job when she finished school, and he had told her that she must find one. #
A recent trip to visit prison inmates had taught him the importance of second, and third, chances for everyone.
Next came a tour of Valletta catering establishments, where he felt the pulse of the business community and urged them to keep the faith that the future would be brighter.
Earlier during Sunday’s political gathering, newly rehabilitated Education Minister Justyne Caruana addressed the activity.
She conceded that it may have been a while since many had seen her, having had to resign in January.
However, she said, she had spent that time reflecting and pledged to hit the ground running.
The prime minister, she said, had entrusted her with an important task: the future of the nation, and she planned to take this very seriously.
Sunday’s event opened with a short intervention by back-bench MP Ian Castaldi Paris who commended the prime minister’s decision-making throughout the pandemic, saying it had been faultless.
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