Malta removed from the green list due to increase in Covid-19 cases

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta has been removed from the EU’s green travel list, joining the rest of the continent in the orange category, amid a resurge in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks. Malta is currently experiencing an increase in cases as the number of active cases have shot up to over 750. On Friday, Malta registered the highest number of new cases since August 19, with 79 new COVID-19 cases. 13 patients are receiving treatment at Mater Dei Hospital including three at the intensive care unit.
Malta has been on the green list since the end of September, being the only EU member state in that category until last week, while the rest of the continent was dealing with an increase in infections.
But Malta soon followed suit and is now on the orange list after its 14-day notification rate increased to 113.5 in the latest weekly update issued by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Maltàs positivity rate stood at 1.9 per cent.
Red-listed countries are not recommended for travel, while those classified on the green list being the most favoured, followed by those on the orange list.
Meanwhile, an event starring Akon was shut down on Wednesday night after it was found to be in breach of coronavirus regulations. The party at a popular St Julian’s nightclub was stopped before Akon had the chance to perform. The police intervened due to the number of people in the venue. The event in question is part of the events in the World iGaming Festival being held in Malta this week. According to the Maltese Covid-19 regulations, seated events can host up to 500 people while standing events are capped at 100 people.

Source: medNews

Record participation in Malta for the biggest iGaming fair

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta is hosting for the seventh time the world’s biggest iGaming fair; SiGMA Europe 2021. The fair attracted a record number of more than 600 investors amongst them foreigners interested in the artificial intelligence and blockchain sectors.
Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela met with various participants, noting the optimism among investors who are considering Malta as an opportunity for investiment. Malta is implementing various economic strategies which were launched three years ago in iGaming, video game development, exports, immersive technology and crypto are concerned.
Over the last few weeks, 250 new jobs were created in the iGaming sector alone. Since 2001, the Maltese gaming industry has grown rapidly, becoming a sanctuary for gaming companies, with hundreds of companies choosing Malta as their base. Meanwhile, the Maltese authorities are working to attract more foreign investment in this sector.
Only last year, the gaming sector contributed €924 million into Maltàs economy. Currently there are 800 job vacancies in the gaming sector with not enough human resource available to fill the vacancies. In Malta there are 328 licenced gaming companies and it is estimated the sector employs 8.300 persons on a full-time basis and provides 4,000 others with indirect employment.
The Founder of the Sigma Group, Eman Pulis, said that despite the circumstances this year’s edition will break with new records for attendance of delegates and exhibitors visiting Malta and this is a most encouraging sign. This event is also being launched in Kenya, Canada, Ukraine and Dubai.

Source: medNews

Malta, Parliament starts debating cultivation cannabis for personal use

VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese Parliament started debating a long-awaited law reforming the use of cannabis. While both the Labour government and the Nationalist opposition agree on harm reduction and on the need not to prosecute simple possession of cannabis, they disagree on the approach.
The drafted law includes “the limited decriminalisation of certain cannabis related activities for the purpose of allowing for a balance between individual freedom in the limited and responsible personal use of cannabis and other social requirements”.
Under the 2015 law, those in possession of up to 3.5g of cannabis no longer appear in court; instead, they appear before a Justice Commissioner and face fines from €50-100. However, they may still be detained by the police for up to 48 hours to obtain information related to drug trafficking. The proposed bill would keep this regime in place, but only for those found to be in possession of 7-28g of cannabis. The possession of up to 7g would no longer be considered an offence, as long as there is no “reasonable suspicion of trafficking,” and the drugs are not to be confiscated.
But the proposted law also paves the way for the legal supply of cannabis, in what the Maltese government is describing as the crux of the proposed law. This would take place through non-profit organisations which cannabis users can join, and in which members may cultivate cannabis exclusively for the group. Each member can receive no more than 7g of cannabis in a single day, and no more than 50g of the drug in a month. Individuals can also cultivate up to 4 cannabis plants for personal use, subject to certain restrictions.
The government is arguing that the aim of the reform is harm reduction, and that the principle motivation is that cannabis users should not face disproportionate penalties while killing the illicit cannabis trade which will cause a blow to the drug traffickers involved.
However, the Opposition declared that it will vote against the proposed law because it encourages the normalising of cannabis use which can create serious difficulties in the Maltese society.

Source: medNews

Malta, Covid cases increase but remains one of the safest EU countries

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Altough Malta is experience a slight increase in COVID-19 cases, it is still being considered as one of the few safest countries in Europe by the European Centre of Disease Control. Maltese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne confirmed an increase of 1.6% in recent days with a total numner of positive cases increased to almost 300 altough only nine patients are receiving treatment in hospital. Fearne said that to ensure that the Malta keeps the pandemic under control and avoid spikes in new cases and deaths, the health authorties decided that by January 2022, those aged over 45 will be offered a Covid booster jab. Fearne added that 75% of those aged over 70 have received a booster jab. So far Malta has avoided a dramatic increase in new cases and deaths being experienced by other countries thanks to the high vaccination rate. However, Minister Fearne still called for caution. Over 94% of those eligible have been fully vaccinated. Stressing the importance of the booster, Minister Fearne explained that “the decision to start giving a booster was the right one because immunity is waning and so the booster is crucial”. The Maltese authorities are not considereing to introduce new mitigating measures. However, Minister Fearne declared that the health authorities will be in a position to decide whether to ease the few restrictions in place, if hospitalisations remain under control within the coming few weeks.

Source: medNews

Migration, Malta accused of another push back at sea

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese authorities are being accused of another push back of migrants. The latest accusations came from the non-governmental organisation Alarm Phone alleging that 71 migrants on a deflating rubber boat were pushed back out of the Maltàs search and rescue.
The group was later rescued by the ship ‘Geo Barents’ operated by another NGO Doctors Without Borders. It was confirmed that the rubber boat was taking on water in rough sea conditions, including strong winds and three meters high waves.
Earlier, Geo Barents, with 296 migrants aboard its rescue ship, was awaiting permission in waters off Malta to disembark. Six migrants tested positive for Covid-19. According to Doctors Withour Borders, it was difficult to keep the whole group of migrants sufficiently distant from the others due to the crowded conditions on board the ship.
According to Alarm Phone, the Maltese authorities were informed about the migrants in distress on Sunday morning and appealed to the authorities to “act immediately and to stop these crimes at sea.”
In another notification, Alarm Phone said it is in contact with another 68 people, including many children, who are in distress in Maltàs SAR and confirmed that the Maltese authorities were already alerted. “They have engine problems and face strong winds and rough seas. We demand European authorities respect the law and fulfill their responsibility!” Alarm Phone said, adding “they see an airplane above them, which we identify as a Frontex plane. The people on board ask why Europe just watches from above but doesn’t rescue them for over a day now.”
A recent European Commission report showed that migration in the Central Mediterranean route increased by 82% in 2021. However, the total number of arrivals in Malta during the same period decreased by 78%.
Maltese and Italian authorities are often accused of coordinating push backs to Libya. Both countries deny this accusation but a Council of Europe report published in March said repeated failures to respond and delays in attending to distress calls by Malta and other countries, “risked jeopardising the right to life of people at sea”.

Source: medNews

Malta not ready to be removed from the grey-list FATF

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta was not removed from the grey list by the Financial Action Task Force following a three day virtual meeting of the internation group of anti-money laundering experts.
FATF President Marcus Pleyer stated that more work needs to be done by the Maltese authorities as none of the points on the action plan have been largely addressed until now. The implementation of anti-money laundering issues and the fighting tax crimes are amongst the points mentioned in Maltàs action plan which was agreed upon with FATF.
However, it was noticed that some good progress was made in the implementation of the action plan to address the grey-listing. Pleyer explained that since Maltàs grey-listing in June, fines have been issued for the filing of incorrect company ownership details with the Malta business registry.
Maltese Finance Minister Clyde Caruana acknowledged the negative impact the FATF grey-listing had on Maltàs attractiveness. A survey published by Ernest & Young concluded that For the first time ever, more foreign investors consider Malta to be currently unattractive for foreign direct investment. Only 37% of foreign investors deem Malta to be attractive for foreign direct investment and the recent FATF greylisting was highlighted as a major concern.

Source: medNews

Malta approves the connection of a gas pipeline with Gela

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Planning authorities in Malta has approved the application for the construction of a gas pipeline between Malta and Sicily.
The plans foresee the construction of a terminal station at Delimara, south of Malta – constructed partially on reclaimed land and the laying of an offshore pipeline up to the median line between Delimara and the city of Gela.
The approval of the rest of the pipeline is up to Italy. In Gela, the pipeline would connect to the network operated by Snam, which is responsible for nearly all of Italy’s gas network.
The planning application had been submitted on July 2017.
The biggest obstacle to the 160km-long pipline is its cost: an estimated €400 million, which will need to be funded by Malta. Though Malta had hoped EU funds would cover a substantial proportion of the outlay, its hopes were dashed by the European Commission, which has deprioritised gas projects in favour of more ambitious climate change targets.
One possible option being considered by Malta, according to Energy Minister Miriam Dalli, is the construction of a hydrogen-ready pipeline. Energy Minister Miriam Dalli confirmed that Malta had successfully negotiated a derogation ensuring that a hydrogen-ready pipeline would be eligible for EU funds.

Source: medNews

Malta, call for truth and justice for Caruana Galizia

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – A vigil for truth and justice was organised late Saturday evening in Valletta to commemorate the fourth anniversary from the killing of Maltese invesigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
A number of international speakers addressed the crowd during the vigil, including Italian Senator and journalist Sandro Ruotolo, the Mayor of Palermo Leoluca Orlando and Italian MEP Caterina Chinnici, daughter of the Sicilian judge Rocco Chinnici killed by the mafia in 1983.
In a recorded message from the city of Palermo, Mayor Leoluca Orlando said that four years after the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the message of truth and justice is still valid. He added Daphne was killed by an organized crime system. “We know the history. The history of Palermo. The history of the Mafia. The mafia that was the face of the institutions. You too in Malta have the right to defend the institutions against the organised crime.”
Italian Senator Sandro Ruotolo declared “Daphne was right”, adding that four years after the killing of Caruana Galizia, he did not expect to reiterate his solidarity. “I was hoping for the whole truth to be revealed and justice to be done, but four years later we are here in this square more worried than ever because the threats against press freedom have increased, we do not know the wholte truth on the assassination of Daphne and justice needs to be served.” He also referred to Maltese politicians close to the Labour Government who were mentioned in the Panama Papers and to corrupt public contracts such as that in the field of energy supply, and who have not even been investigated.
In a video message, Italian MEP Caterina Chinnici said that despite knowing the danger she was working in, Daphne Caruana Galizia still worked to expose the truth and to defend the European fundamental rights such as freedom of the press, the good administration of justice and the rule of law.
Civil society movement Repubblika President Robert Aquilina called on the police chief and the attorney general to get their act together and prosecute whoever was involved in the corruptions scandals, Daphne Caruana Galizia uncovered.
Ricardo Gutièrrez from the European Federation of Journalists told the crowd “Daphne is a symbol. Daphne is a role model for all of us. We will never forget her. She is changing this country in ways that no one would have dared to consider.”
The legal advisor of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Flutura Kusari called on Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela and other political leaders to use their power to stop discrediting campaigns against those seeking justice for Daphne. “If anything happens to them or if the cases before the court fail, the Maltese state will be responsible.”
Rebecca Vincent from Reporters Without Borders said that although progress was registered in the investigations “wère not going anywhere until justice is fully served.
Tom Gibson from the Committee to Protect Journalists said that Daphnès murder was an attack on press freedom in Malta and against press freedom in Europe. “When they investigate and publish, they bring information to our attention. They strengthen our systems. They strengthen us. The protection of this is such as an important aspect of Daphnès legacy.” Gibson said Daphne Caruana Galiziàs memory will be preserved around Europe, and other journalists will follow in her footsteps.
Earlier in the afternoon, a silent gathering in memory of the murdered Daphne Caruana Galizia was held in Bidnija, the same place where Daphne lived and was assassinated in a car bomb. Activists carried a large banner with a message “Daphne was right” and laid flowers and candles.
Today’s commemoration has also inspired many international figures and institutions to speak up for the importance of Maltàs press freedom, rule of law, and a clear call for justice.
12 international press freedom organisations stated that “it is deeply unsettling to reiterate, four years on, our call for justice for this heinous attack as impunity continues to fester.”
Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights described Daphne Caruana Galizia as “a courageous woman and a brilliant journalist who used her skills to speak truth to power. She served the public good, believing in the power of journalism to build a more just society.” Paying tribute to the journalist, Mijatovic added “despite herself, Daphne became the symbol of all the threats against journalists when she was brutally killed four years ago.”
Additionally, the United States embassy in Malta has called for a thorough, transparent, timely, and credible conclusion to the investigations into her murder.
So far, one of three men accused of planting the car bomb pleaded guilty and was jailed for 15 years. However, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio are still awaiting trial while Maltàs attorney general has called for a life sentence for businessman Yorgen Fenech for allegedly masterminding the murder.

Source: medNews

COVID-19, Malta eases more restrictive measures

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese authorities will ease more COVID-19 restrictive measures related to mass events as from next Monday. This was confirmed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne while confirming that the coronavirus is under control.
At the moment, 11 patients positive to COVID-19 are recieving treatment at Mater Dei Hospital. Only one is in intensive care. Recently, the Maltese health authorties confirmed some isolated cases in schools, however no COVID-19 clusters were registered. No deaths were reported this week while the total number of active cases stands at 290.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that restrictions will be applicable for events which are open to fully vaccinated individuals.
As from Monday, children under the age of 12, who cannot get the jab yet, will no longer require a recent rapid test or a PCR when attending events with a fully vaccinated guardian or parent.
The health authorities will also ease the measure relating to the number of people seated at table, which will go up to eight individuals per table.
In case of fully vaccinated individuals, outdoor tables can be set at 1m distance from each other instead of 2 meters, while in case of indoor tables these can be placed at 1.5 meters away from each other instead of two.
Public transport including the fast ferries, will be allowed to take up to 80% of their capacity.

Source: medNews

Pope Francis to visit Malta during the first quarter of 2022

VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela confirmed today that Pope Francis will be visiting Malta during the first three months of next year. The announcement was made by the Maltese Prime Minister following a private audience with the Head of the Catholic Church at the Vatican.

Euro-Med affairs, migration, climate change, the contribution of Christianity to the history, culture and life of Malta, and the Church’s interest in human and social development in Malta, particularly education and welfare services were the main issues discussed between the Pontiff and Prime Minister Abela.

Pope Francis was accompanied by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. According to the Vatican Press Office, the relations and collaboration between the Church and the State of Malta were also discussed during the meeting, and were described as “healthy”.

Pope Francis’ pastoral visit was planned for this year, but it was postponed due to concerns over an increase in COVID-19 cases and the forthcoming general election.

Source: medNews

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