George Vella

Partner, Transaction Advisory Services, Grant Thornton Malta

Grant Thornton Survey highlights the impact of COVID-19 on Malta’s new norm

Wednesday 01st July 2020

A nationwide survey carried out by Grant Thornton Malta’s Transaction Advisory Services team has shown significant changes in the population’s behaviour, following the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. The results will be discussed in a webinar series addressing the Shaping of Malta’s Future, featuring 18 sessions and over 50 panelists, within the purview of three thematic pillars - society, environment and the economy.

The survey was conducted between Tuesday 9th June and Friday 19th June, during which 491 valid responses were collected. 

Holidays at home for the majority

According to the survey, the restrictions imposed by the health authorities have considerably changed the Maltese outlook on everyday life, as many consider visiting public spaces. Food and catering establishments might be the worst affected by the crisis, as only 21% of the respondents feel confident dining at restaurants offering indoor facilities only, and 61% will only visit bars and restaurants with outdoor areas. A similar percentage (60%) will host or visit relatives and friends at home, showing how protecting vulnerable family members is still a priority for many. Beaches and parks are considered the safest areas by 79% of the respondents. Only 9% do not feel comfortable visiting any of the mentioned places. The pandemic also had an impact on physical activities, as 52% reduced or completely stopped training. However, the good news is that 32% of those who never practiced any sports started doing so during the outbreak, which has also forced many to review their summer plans, as 76% will not travel for leisure shortly after the airport reopens. For this reason, 35% are considering renting a farmhouse in Malta or Gozo, while 27% will spend their summer holidays in a local hotel. The vast majority, 47%, will not opt for either of the two options, preferring to commute to the beach daily instead.

Maltese not happy with online training options

Technology has placed a pivotal role in reducing the distance between family and friends during the lockdown. A staggering 96% of respondents made use of social apps to keep in touch with their loved ones, but online tuition ranked poorly. Just 16% felt that virtual training is more effective than classroom room one, and only 24% will consider substituting face-to-face education with its online equivalent in the future.

A green rebirth

The environment seems to have benefited the most from the “great pause” as many started considering green options for personal transport.

When considering purchasing a new car, 42% of respondents indicated that they would give more importance to lower emissions, 33% would purchase a hybrid vehicle, and 26% would consider acquiring an electrical one.

The use of public transport still ranks poorly, as 78% of respondents who own a car indicated they would not consider using alternative transportation since it is not practical or value their independence. On the other hand, 12% of respondents indicated they already commute using alternative transport, and the remaining 10% would be willing to consider it.

Teleworking is the way ahead

With social distancing measures in place, many companies had to provide their personnel with the option of working from home. Individuals employed in the information technology sector (94%), professional services (91%), health and education (77%) as well as ‘Other’ (72%) were given the option of teleworking. Equally, employees working in the information technology sector (76%), professional services sector (65%), as well as ‘Other’ (79%) have derived more satisfaction from working from home. The same categories felt that they have become more productive since working remotely. In total, 81% of the respondents think they will prefer to keep on working from home two days per week once the health restrictions will be lifted. Teleworking also offers its benefits to employers, as 75% saved up to 20% of total utility costs.

The shift to e-commerce and cashless payments

In their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, 76% of the respondents indicated that they would rather avoid handling cash. Businesses will also encourage the use of their online purchasing facilities (88%), as the digital shift has negatively impacted only 15% of them.

Join our webinar and discuss the way forward

The survey will be a subject of discussion during “Shaping Malta’s Future – The new norm”, a series of free webinars organized by Grant Thornton Malta on July 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22,and 23 from 11am till 1pm.

The interactive panels will feature a lineup of prominent local speakers, including Director General/Superintendent of Public Health Prof. Charmaine Gauci, Honourable Chief Justice Emeritus Dr. DeGaetano, Commissioner for Children Pauline Miceli, Dean of the Faculty for Social Wellbeing Prof. Andrew Azzopardi, Malta Chamber of SMEs CEO Abigail Mamo, and Local Council’s Association President Mario Fava.

Those interested in participating can register at