Can you make up your minds, already?

    Miguela Xuereb

    So what is it this week? Are we pretending there is no pandemic or are we meant not to visit relatives? Are we looking after the vulnerable or is it survival of the fittest? Are we clapping for frontliners or are we just pushing them to the fringes of collective consciousness?

    You know, I don’t envy the job of any politician in the current climate. I can’t imagine what it’s like to grapple with the day-to-day running of a country while Mother Nature pushes us towards a total reimagining of how we do things if we want people to survive. But, hey, I didn’t run for politics, the people in charge did, so it’s their responsibility to sort it out.

    Instead, they are doing everything in their power to confuse us. Chris Fearne tells us that we will have to have a quiet Christmas and self-isolate as best we can, and Robert Abela tells us that he doesn’t want things to be all doom and gloom this Christmas. Meanwhile Julia Farrugia Portelli announces Christmas in the City initiatives and Silvio Schembri cancels his events before facing backlash. So who’s in the right? Who are we meant to look to for a blueprint of how we should act?

    they are doing everything in their power to confuse us.

    The worst part is that, instead of taking responsibility for what they are saying and inferring through their words and actions, they continue to place the blame squarely at the public’s feet. It’s the people’s fault that the numbers are increasing and it’s the people’s fault that harsher measures are not being put in place (because the majority says so, apparently). They’ll soon tell us it’s the people’s fault that COVID-19 affected the economy because we didn’t go out and spend as much money as we had before.

    Now, let us be clear, it is our collective responsibility to try to keep each other safe, and there is nothing fun about enforcing such measures, especially if they can be avoided. But we do not elect, and pay, politicians to throw our problems back in our faces. We elect and pay them to solve our country’s problems, and part of solving them is taking hard and unpopular decisions if and when they need to be taken, based on science and facts, and not general consensus.

    But let’s take this a step further and talk about how we got in a pickle to begin with: the government’s rhetoric on COVID.

    • We went from closing hairdressing salons, restaurants and clothes shops to opening the country to mass events in a matter of weeks.
    • The message of ‘stay at home’ morphed into ‘go out and enjoy summer’ even though the situation hadn’t changed.
    • The advice from the top changed from one politician’s appearance on TV to another.
    • And people are getting fined for not wearing a mask while alone on the beach based on rules made by the same authorities that want people to leave their houses and head to Valletta for some festive cheer. And, yes, it may just be a children’s choir and lights, but the fact that you advertised it as an event and handed out free parking, doesn’t sound like you’re planning for an intimate gathering of five, does it?

    Honestly, how can the government expect people to cooperate when even those laying the law are confused about what needs to be done? When even they don’t know what kind of message they are putting across?

    I despair, but at least there is some glimmer of hope now that a vaccine has reportedly been found and will be rolled out later this year or early next. What that means is that we could return to some semblance of normality by spring or summer 2021. Sadly, though, while the vaccine may get rid of COVID-19, it will not get rid of the populist village politics so many Maltese politicians practise.

    And it won’t bring the people who died from COVID back from the dead, either.