COVID-19, Malta expected to reach herd immunity in weeks
VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta is expected to reach herd immunity in its fight against the coronavirus in the coming weeks. This was confirmed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne while addressing the Maltese parliament. Thus, the target date for herd immunity – which is expected to occur when 70% of the Maltese population is vaccination – has been moved forward. Originally expected to take place in September, this milestone is now set to be reached “in the coming weeks.”
Chris Fearne emphasised that Maltàs vaccination strategy was well ahead of schedule. He revealed that registration for the Covid-19 vaccine is set to be opened to everyone aged 16 and up later this month. 70% would soon receive at least the first dose of the vaccine, Fearne recalled, emphasising that this also offered a measure of protection.
While Malta is registering almost less than 10 positive cases each day, the government announced the easing easing of more Covid-19 restrictive measures. The Health Minister said that the easing of measures is dependent on maintaining low numbers of new cases. However mask wearing remains essential and mandatory, but from June, 1 masks wearing will not be mandatory at the beach.
He explained that the easing of measures will happen gradually and spread out over the next few weeks.
As from May 10, restaurants and snack bars started to open until 5pm with maximum four people at each table and restrictions on non-essential travel between Malta and Gozo has been removed. Professional contact sports have been resumed as well as all extracurricular activities. Open markets in village centres are permitted to open too.
From May 24, restaurants and snack bars will be allowed to open until midnight, pools can reopen until 8pm for swimming only and gyms can reopen but no classes will be allowed. Day centres for the elderly will reopen in two weeks time.
From June 1, language schools can open doors to foreign students and weddings can also be held, with a maximum of 100 people indoors and 300 outdoors.
From June 7, all social clubs can reopen but customers must be seated. Betting parlours, casinos, cinemas and theatres can reopen too while restaurants and snack bars can increase the number of people on each table from 4 to 6.
On mass activities, the Health Minister said these are not a priority and indicated that village feasts will have to be scaled down this year. Mass events will not be allowed to take place unless it is absolutely certain that these will not have a negative impact.
While Malta will open for tourism as from June 1, Germany announced that it will no longer consider Malta as a Covid-19 risk area. However, contrary to what was expected, Malta is not included in the UK’s green list, meaning the countries that English tourists can freely travel to without having to quarantine on their return.
Meanwhile, Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela proposed using the vaccine certificates which health authorities will be issuing in the coming weeks as a pilot project ahead of the introduction of an EU-wide Green Digital Certificate.
Addressing an informal EU council meeting, Abela said the Green Digital Certificate is an important tool for the tourist summer season, particularly for countries such as Malta which depend on the free movement of people. While explaining that Maltese health authorities will be introducing vaccine certificate to facilitate travel, Abela told his fellow EU leaders that this could serve as a pilot project before the introduction of the Green Digital Certificate.
Abela is currently in self-isolation after his wife Lydia contracted Covid-19.