Prime Minister’s public communication on the Covid-19 pandemic situation:
Hello dear friends!
The situation is rather positive, but I’d urge you everyone to understand that we should remember some simple things and I would like to extend my support and sympathy to whoever is frustrated and upset and there is no need for them to trust me but just take a look and try to figure out what is going on in other countries, from Italy to England and the United States if they will.
First of all, the invisible enemy we are fighting would not leave just because of the fact that we confine ourselves to our homes, and if no vaccine is to be developed we will be forced to coexist with it, which means that the indispensable reopening should take place gradually, while everyone should be vigilant and imposing and self-imposing of the rule should continue. And we should hold on to what we’ve already accomplished so that, God forbid it, we don’t go back to zero again.
I know you are distressed and fed up with the permits, authorizations, restrictions and the changes, but everyone should understand this situation is such a headache for everyone of you, but also for us and for me because of my tremendous responsibility to protect and guard you from this grave evil.
Next week, we plan to extend the daily period when people will be allowed to leave their homes to do shopping. We will also open the intercity roads to the taxi services in order to offer a sigh of relief to the people who travel after being stuck here and there, in a city or another. Starting Monday, May 4, we will ease travel inside the cities, both for the pedestrians and drivers, lifting also the restriction on the use of the personal cars for other purposes, except driving to work.
Likewise, we will also announce the third bloc of businesses that will reopen. The move will certainly help the household economy of all people who will gradually return to work. That’s why, it takes just e little bit more patience, because, although I know showing patience is something much easier said than done, yet there is no other option, but show patience. Everyone should stick in their mind that reopening needs to be safeguarded through rules and strict safety conditions.
Therefore, it is crucially important for businesses to make sure they all obtain the due certificate, along with the safety protocol via e-albania platform and strictly adhere to the safety protocol. That’s why it is also important for everyone to understand that, after all, these permits, certificates, authorizations ad safety protocols are crucial to the efforts to safeguard health of everyone and this means we should and we will be more demanding towards you, but first of all everyone should be demanding of their selves in order to protect their own families, whole population and Albania from the offensive and revenge of the invisible enemy. Third, a decision will be made whether to reopen or not schools and universities across country. This is not an easy decision to be made. Denmark is the only country to partly open its schools as of today. The prime ministers I have been talking with recently have all almost acknowledged that they don’t know exactly what to do. We, too, are still unaware of what decision to make, but we will assess the situation week after week. However, a final conclusion has yet to be drawn when it comes to education and tourism industry. But we should not forget the fact that we face another trouble, the impacts of the devastating earthquake that has destroyed and badly damaged many schools in Albania’s most populated areas, namely Tirana, Durres and surrounding area and therefore the existing school buildings are therefore overcrowded. In other words, we risk a lot if we are to reopen schools anytime soon. However, we are exploring all opportunities and a decision will be announced next week.
Fourth, earlier today I have a phone conversation with the Croatian Prime Minister to discuss tourism and we remain in contact with many countries with similar tourism industry, which is vital to their economy and an inseparable part of the people’s lives during the summer season. Still nothing is known for sure but anyway, thanks to all the interaction with others, we will have our own plan on tourism within May, hopefully by first half of May, always looking carefully at the dynamics of the epidemic because the population’s health comes first and we will for no reason allow the today’s solid health situation deteriorate despite the stress the daily life front inflicts upon each and every one of us for various reasons.
Fifth, as many as 52,000 individuals have already received the wartime salary to date and the final 8,000 verifications and complaints review will complete as of Friday and the first tranche of payments will also complete. I deeply apologize that the process took some time, but the verification process is a must with this process complete, any further delay will be avoided with the next two tranches, which will be transferred automatically within a day on the determined deadlines. Meanwhile, applications of around 65,000 individuals have been turned down as they were not eligible to benefit under the first support package. They will all receive by tomorrow the respective e-mails, confirming that they will benefit a payment of 400,000 lek under the extended support package.
Meanwhile, taking notice of a series of questions over certain small business payments in March, I would like to explain that small business taxes for 2020 have been pardoned, yet they should all continue paying the social insurance contributions and the Value Added Tax. To make it short, dear friends, we have entered a gradual turn and we all should show a little bit more patience, without forgetting even for a second that a speedy reopening could cost us dearly, just the Austrian Chancellor put it, we must be and we are aware that after every step there is a possibility that we will pull the emergency brakes, as he put it, and move backward again if the number of infected people surges beyond the normal forecast.
Just like it was the case at the very onset of the virus outbreak, we have developed our forecast model and it is this very model to guide us in every decision we are to make and which will continue to be dynamic. That’s why I would urge everyone not to complain as to why rules and decisions change so often, because they are inevitable everywhere in a confrontation where it is not all about how quickly we want to move towards the future, but an invisible force stands between us and the future seeking to harm our health, to turn us back, and, God forbid it, take our loved ones away from us. However, there is one thing you should keep in mind as it may help anytime you become upset. If we were not to take the measures we put in place, if we all were not to resist and endure just like we have done so far, if we would have failed to lower the curve of the epidemic under our most optimistic forecast, exactly thanks to this war we are jointly fighting, we would then not become upset why a certain certificate, a permit, or an authorization was not issues to certain individuals, instead they would be now mourning many dead and many wounded in the hospital beds that would have collapsed in front of the wave of infections. I would let you think about this, as each and every one of you is aware of the situation in Italy and the number of citizens returned back home from Italy’s red zones before we acted to close the country’s borders. If we were to take and adapt the Italian model we would have around 15 000 infections and we would have to provide treatment and intensive care to over 855 patients in just five weeks. Therefore as many as 1995 would have died.
One cannot be comforted a lot by what does not happen, but in these extraordinary circumstances, we must not forget what it could have happened to us for another reason, not to be fooled by thinking that we got away with this evil and it is now over. Nothing would happen if we continue to do our job as we have done so far. The situation could deteriorate and become even worse than it could be, believe me, this is a fact, and looking to normalize and moving towards the normalization we must make up our mind that nobody knows that for how long the new normality will not be the normality we had before we entered this extraordinary time and even more important to protect the new normality, we will all have to adapt a new conduct in terms of safety and we will need to impose on each other all those conditions, all those rules and all that rigorousness that the protection of the new normality requires so that we do not go back to where we successfully emerged from.
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