The CEO of Malta Chamber of SMEs has presented a proposal for a five day reduced COVID quarantine period at an Employment Relations Board meeting, attended by Superintendence of Public Health, the Data Protection Commissioner and the CEO of the Health and Safety Authority.
CEO Abigail Agius Mamo, who is also a member of the board, presented the proposal on Tuesday, advocating for Malta to take up the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s latest recommendation to reduce quarantine.
She stated that while the SME Chamber is not seeking to take over the work of Malta’s health authorities, recommendations by the CDC “cannot be ignored,” also pointing out that the country has taken the Centre’s input on board before.
The proposal comes as Malta’s businesses face tremendous disruption due to the spread of COVID and the associated isolation periods it requires. This has been further compacted by delays in the sending of official quarantine notices, meaning employers have to rely on the honesty of workers.
Currently, health authority guidelines state that those who test positive with COVID-19 and contacts living in the same household are obliged to self-isolate for a full 10 days. Persons living in the same household as a COVID-positive person are only eligible for a reduced quarantine period of 10 days if both they and the COVID-positive person are fully vaccinated, booster shot included.
However, this rule is already a reduction on the initial 14-day policy made in the final days of 2022 after concerted political pressure and repeated requests by the struggling business community.
The US health authorities made the recommendation to cut the quarantine duration from 10 to five days late last year, and is designed to allow people to return to work sooner, minimising the prospect of mass labour shortages in key parts of the economy.
The CDC’s recommendations state that the five-day isolation period be “followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others.”
Presenting the proposal, The SME Chamber also warned that the system is risking a collapse since people, faced with the hard quarantine conditions, are increasingly not reporting their primary contacts when possible and are taking things into their own hands and catering for their illness in private without any official test.
Abigail Mamo by Alan Carville for Business Now magazine
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