Empty office

The President of the Malta Employers’ Association (MEA) has warned that in light of rapidly rising COVID case numbers and the associated isolation of positive cases and their contacts, Maltese businesses are facing operational disruptions due to staff shortages.

Speaking to BusinessNow.mt, Joanne Bondin said that the MEA is concerned about the “alarming” escalation of case numbers, but acknowledged that impact on the work place is unavoidable as cases explode in in Malta and abroad.

Asked whether appropriate consideration is being given to employers regarding the staff shortage by the Government when deciding on new measures, Ms Bondin answered that they would like to “be consulted” when restrictions are implemented.

“We are willing to offer support, and are more than willing to be involved,” she said.

Addressing the isolation period in particular, she emphasised the need to get through this fourth wave of COVID saying: “We need to do what has to be done” and adding that this should be the case with “minimal disruption” and “no hidden agendas.”

Her comments come as the Omicron variant is seeing cases rise rapidly across the world, including in Malta, where daily figures are at record highs.

In Malta, a previous announcement stated that fully vaccinated close contacts should only quarantine for seven days, before taking a swab test to determine whether they can leave quarantine.

The rule had been welcomed by many in the business community, especially those in sectors that have sounded the alarm over staffing and workforce issues.

Abroad a number of countries, including the UK, have reduced their quarantine periods in light of disruptions from the large numbers of people in isolation, and reports that the symptoms of the new variant are less severe.

South Africa, where the variant was first detected, went a step further, announcing on Christmas Eve that it is abandoning self-isolation for anyone not displaying COVID symptoms.

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