Prime Minister Robert Abela is addressing a press conference to announce a new financial aid package for businesses affected by the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 coronavirus.

The press conference is being held at the Hotel Excelsior. Hotels have been among the hardest hit by the virus, with the tourism industry having ground to a stop as flights were banned.

The MHRA Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association said on Facebook that the social partners had unanimously agreed with the government on new measures to support the economy in the current difficult times.  

Follow the press conference live below.

The government on Friday announced an initial €1.8billion package of measures to help businesses struggling to cope with the impact of coronavirus. 

That package included €700 million in tax deferrals, €900 million in loan guarantees, a €210 million injection to assist the economy, which includes €35 million to health authorities to fight COVID-19.

Employers were also to be entitled to €350 for every employee on quarantine leave. Special measures to cover leave for families and the wage bill of businesses which have had to close because of the outbreak, were also factored in.

Both employers and trade unions, however were critical of the package, saying it did not do enough to address the huge losses being incurred by the business community.  

Employers have asked why workers would accept €350 monthly aid, when they could apply for €800 in unemployment benefits instead.

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