President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry David Xuereb said that it is time to re-open the economy, and for people to return to work, in a safe and responsible way.
He delivered his message in a personal video blog on Monday morning, where he cautioned that mixed messages were resulting in confusion.
Perit Xuereb stressed that the three principles which are to be considered when taking decisions are physical health, economic health and mental health. He stressed that as a Chamber, organisation strongly supports the strengthening of all three factors, stressing that one cannot look at economic health of a nation alone.
He highlighted that as the situation has evolved, societies would have to learn to live with COVID-19. Repeating earlier statements, Perit Xuereb said that it is not realistic to pursue aims of close to zero COVID-19 cases without a widely available vaccine.
“We have to stop focussing on ridding Malta of the virus in the shortest space of time and consider that we need to learn to live with COVID-19 until a vaccine is found. This means social distancing and hygiene remain highly important, and vulnerable people must continue to be protected.”
With the realities of the current situation, Perit Xuereb stressed that it is time to reopen businesses and the economy, and stressed how important it is for employers to be prepared and ready to cater for the safety of their employees.
“Steps towards opening the economy need to be actioned , and this needs to happen as quickly as possible…we need to do this with the utmost professionality and responsibility, so that all key principles are taken care of and we continue to ensure that the number of infected remains low,” he said.
“We should not open at all costs. Confidence must be re-introduced into the economy responsibly and in a way that respects all safety standards.”
On the risk assessments that employers must carry out before re-introducing staff to their workspaces, Perit Xuereb said requirements for employers must be communicated clearly and quickly so that they are as prepared as possible.
“We need to return to work, and those who are scared should only be if their employer is not prepared to provide for safe work environment.
“Let’s go to work, let’s give all we can, maybe a little bit more than before, so that hopefully we can lift ourselves from this situation safely, quickly and sustainably – not just on a business level, but a personal level and a national level.”