Amid a persistently high number of coronavirus cases, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve) issued a dramatic appeal to businesses and employees to comply with health protocols, while the small shopkeepers’ association Povek warned that a much feared generalised lockdown may be enforced unless everyone does their bit.
OEB, the Employers and Industrialists Federation also joined Keve and Povek is urging strict implementation of health protocols.
The appeals came as the health ministry reminded the public that masks are compulsory for everyone aged above 12. Failure to comply carries a €300 fine. It also again clarified that all shops must adhere to the rule of a maximum of one person per 10 square metres. Premises must notify shoppers how many are permitted inside at any given time and regulate access.
Both the number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalisations have remained stubbornly high, more than a week after stricter measures that include a 9pm curfew, were introduced.
Though experts have said at least two weeks are needed before the measures deliver results, authorities are understood to be at a quandary as to how proceed in the run-up to Christmas with speculation measures may be tightened, rather than loosened as had initially been the intention.
In a written announcement on Monday, the Keve issued what it called a “dramatic appeal” to members and employees to strictly adhere to coronavirus prevention measures. It said the situation is at a tipping point and if not controlled, the state will have to impose stricter measures that will have a massive negative impact on the economy.
“Incidents of uncontrolled gatherings in catering establishments/ bars or at work places aggravate the situation and place the health system and efforts to control the spread of the pandemic at huge risk, with everything that entails. The worst will be avoided only if everyone does their bit,” it said.
“Implementation of the health minister’s decree and all the relevant protection and social distancing protocols constitutes a precondition to avoid the possibility of a more generalised or comprehensive imposition of restrictive and prohibitive measures,” OEB said.
Every violation or inadequate implementation of the measures brings us a step closer to tougher measures, not excluding a total lockdown which would have heavy economic consequences for all, it added.
Povek underscored the same message. Adhering to the protocols was essential if the economy is to remain open in December, it warned.
“Unfortunately, the epidemiological situation of the past two weeks holds risks for a general lockdown with everything that this entails at an economic, psychological and social level,” it said.
Now was not the time for conspiracy theories or to apportion blame to the scientific advisers and the government for mistakes made, it noted.
The much-awaited period that offers hard pressed businesses a lifeline was already here and it was essential that the thousands of small and medium sized firms implement the ministry’s protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.
For its part, the health ministry once more highlighted the importance of masks which are compulsory for everyone aged over 12 indoors, wherever there is more than one person, outdoors, and in public transport. Exemptions apply to houses, people actively eating or drinking in catering establishments, people travelling in their private car alone or with members of their family, people exercising, cooks (during cooking) people with special needs who cannot comply with mask wearing, people with neurological conditions that prevent them from handling a mask and people with jaw injuries or deformities.
The ministry noted that mask wearing was not being adhered to in catering establishments, particularly by people moving around the premises where masks are compulsory. They are also urged to wear them for their own protection for all the time they are in the establishment and are not eating or drinking.