The Malta Chamber of SMEs said that it agrees with public health measures announced by the government on Sunday. Health Minister Chris Fearne said that a mandatory closure of all non-essential retail stores and services will come into effect on Monday 23 March.
In a statement, the Chamber of SMEs noted that many businesses in the category had already taken the decision to close following slow business fearing “unjustified risk” for staff and customers. The Chamber that the latest measure is another move towards lockdown.
The statement called for greater clarity about the exact list of operations that will be allowed to continue and urged the government to publish the full information when announcements are made.
While it welcomes the decision, the Chamber criticises the lack of aid for businesses: “Unfortunately these announcements were not accompanied by the necessary economic support measures. The UK government has just made such announcements a few days ago and these were accompanied by strong measures that avoided much pressure on enterprises and their employees.”
The statement said that economic pressures are “extremely worrying” and insists on an immediate emergency response mechanism.
“Employers and their employees are trying to push through impossible situations that are affecting their day-to-day life and mental health, hoping for a breakthrough in discussions,” said the Chamber, calling on government to deliver a “message of economic hope” to reassure both employers and employees.