LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese government decided to ease further the restrictions against COVID-19, as the number of new cases remained at an all time low. The number of active cases confirmed by the Maltese health authorities stands at 29.
From June 28, restaurants and bars can stay open until 2am.
Moreover, sea vessels can operate at 65% of their capacity and water parks will also be allowed to reopen. Contact sport for people aged 17 or under can also resume as can fitness classes. In addition, from Monday the visiting hours at Mater Dei Hospital will be increased.
Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne said that in view of the stable number of cases from Wednesday, July 1, fully vaccinated people in possession of a vaccine certificate can remove their masks in public as long as they are not in the presence of more than one other fully vaccinated person. Children under the age of 12 may remain without a mask as long as they are accompanied by a person who is vaccinated against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Malta has been included on the UK’s green list for travel, meaning that from 30 June British tourists do not need to quarantine on their return from the Mediterranean island. The UK, traditionally Maltàs largest market, welcomed 650,000 British travellers in 2019. However, with the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus spreading fast in the UK, the Maltese authorities will be requesting travellers arriving from the UK to present a vaccine certificate as from 30 June.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – A new, fast ferry catamaran service from Valletta, Malta to the port of Augusta in Sicily will start operating every day from August, 6. The catamaran, HSC Artemis, will bring more competition in the market, with Ponte Ferries as a second operator along with Virtu Ferries.
The high-speed craft has the flexibility to shuttle more than 717 passengers between Malta and Sicily, and to carry 245 cars, or 15 road freight trailers plus 180 cars.
The 96 metre catamaran was operating in the Canary Islands and has recently been overhauled and refitted by Fred Olsen, a leading ferry operator in Spain that specializes in inter-island routes aboard high-speed vessels.
Augusta, is located less than 30 minutes away from Catania. A spokesperson for Ponte Ferries said: “We are delighted to bring much-needed competition to this market in time for the peak holiday season. Our vessel offers great value and has the added advantage of berthing in Augusta, which is just a short drive away from Catania, Syracuse, the shopping outlets and Taormina”.
One-way trips are on sale for 9.99 at a starting price.
Ponte Ferries is a Maltese joint venture between Magro Brothers Investments Ltd and Merill Invest Ltd.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta has been officially grey-listed by the Financial Action Task Force. The decision was taken during the FATF plenary session on Wednesday afternoon; a move which may seriously impact the financial sector.
An International Monetary Fund study suggests that ending up on the grey list could have serious repercussions on the country’s economy, impacting banking, business and the attractiveness to foreign investors.
Malta, together with Romania, became the first two European member states to fall under the FATF’s jurisdictions under increased monitoring, known as the grey-list.
The FATF grey list does not imply any specific sanctions. However, it serves as a warning to the international community that the country is not doing enough to stop major financial crime and therefore cannot be trusted.
The interational community became aware of years of inaction, corruption scandals involving Labour government Ministers following the assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017.
Though legislative and other efforts rushed through in recent months appear to have satisfied Moneyval – the Council of Europès anti-money laundering body – they proved insufficient for the FATF, whose 39 members include 37 nations from across the globe, the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Maltese Finance Minister Clyde Caruana had insisted in recent days that Malta would not deserve grey-listing after all the work it had done in the past year and a half.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Cabinet of Ministers turned down the latest request for a presidential pardon made by the Degiorgio brothers accused of killing Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017.
The request for the presidential pardon by murder suspects George and Alfred Degiorgio was made on April, 26. In April, the Cabinet of Ministers had already turned down a similar request by the Degiorgio brothers. They asked for a presidential pardon for all crimes they may have committed, promising to provide evidence which would lead to more prosecutions – including a former minister – in relation to Daphne Caruana Galiziàs assassination.
In a statement, the Maltese government said that in accordance with the advice of the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner, the Cabinet decided to advise the President of the Republic not to grant the request for a presidential pardon. The Maltese government added that the decision “is not only based on the advice of the relevant institutions, but is also taken in the national interest and in the interest of the proper administration of justice.”
Minister Carmelo Abela recused himself once again after the Degiorgio brothers accused him of assisting robbers in a 2010 bank heist.
George and Alfred Degiorgio claim to have information implicating a former minister as a mastermind in the Caruana Galizia murder as well as information about other serious crimes, including attempted robberies and a murder in which, they also claim, a former minister and sitting minister were involved.
This month, the brothers wrote a letter to the European Commission in which they accused the Maltese government with conflict of interest by refusing them a pardon over information they claim implicates former minister Chris Cardona and sitting minister Carmelo Abela in major crimes.
In reply, the European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders turned down the request by the Degiorgio brothers to intervene over the refusal of a pardon, but directed them to speak to Europol officers and shared their information with them.
Meanwhile, the Police are investigating the discovery of weapons and explosives on the seabed in the area known as Mi?ra Fer?a in Rabat. According to The Times of Malta, the discovery of automatic rifles, machine guns and bombs is linked to the Maksar brothers, Robert and Adrian Agius who have links in Italy. The Agius brothers and their associate Jamie Vella are accused of having supplied the bomb allegedly used in the assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese health authorities announced that for the fourth time this week, no new cases of COVID-19 were registered. No new cases were recorded on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and today.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne added that by tomorrow, 80 per cent of adult will have received at least one vaccine dose. 621,674 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered to date, with 282,709 people being fully vaccinated.
With 3 new recoveries reported by the Maltese health authorities, the total number of active cases is now down to 29. The health authorities added that no deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours.
Malta has had 30,588 cases of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, with 30,139 of them recovered from the virus. However, the pandemic has claimed 420 lives in Malta to date.
Meanwhile, the Malta International Airport) has once again called on health authorities to digitalise the Covid document verification process without delay to avoid the chaotic scenes witnessed in the past 24 hours at the arrivals lounge. Visibly exhausted passengers crammed into small spaces where social distancing was impossible to maintain. Describing the situation as “unacceptable,” Malta International Airport said it “deeply regrets the inconvenience and anxiety suffered by guests who were caught up prior to start of their stay in Malta.”
Moreover, MIA appealed for stronger legislation to enforce the use of digital health declarations and certificates by travellers which will in turn facilitate health screening processes.
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne confirmed that not the whole process can be done electronically. Passengers coming to Malta must fill in manually an official document, provides details of where they will stay during their visit. The Maltese government is in talks with airlines to see whether these forms can be filled online before passengers board the plane.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The German NGO RESQSHIP confirmed that a group of 86 migrants who were in distress in Maltàs search and rescue zone were rescued by the Italian coastguard and taken to Lampedusa. The NGO said that the Maltese authorities refused to give assistance and accused Malta of violating international maritime law once again.
Another NGO, Alarm Phone, confirmed that the migrants had fled from Libya on a boat whose engine had stopped. The NGO said that the migrants were exhausted and needed to be rescued immediately.
RESQSHIP deployed its rescue ship, Nadir, and located the group of migrants including children and three pregnant women. One person received medical care. According to the NGO, the Italian and Maltese authorities were informed with all developments.
The NGO RESQHIP insisted that a larger ship was needed to take the migrants to a safe harbour. However, it said the Maltese authorities rejected the call for assistance.
The NGO also criticised the Libyan coastguard, accusing it of asking the migrants to return to Libya, with the NGO refusing to allow this. Eventually, in the early hours, RESQSHIP confirmed that the Italian coastguard offered help to the migrants and allowed them entry in the port of Lampedusa.
The NGO Alarm Phone blasted the Armed Forces of Malta for refusing to help the migrants in distress and condemned what it called “the new normal in the Central Mediterranean”. It accused the AFM of breaching European law when it refused to offer help.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta has confirmed its first victim due to COVID-19, even though the patient was fully vaccinated. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne said that the elderly died on Thursday morning. The 82-year-old man had already contracted the virus and had also been vaccinated. The octogenarian was successfully treated for COVID-19 a month ago and subsequently received both doses of the vaccine but, unfortunately, he still succumbed to the virus.
So far, Malta has registered 420 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Minister Chris Fearne pointed out that most vaccines have a 94-95% efficiency rate, adding that, as some people have weak immune systems, the vaccinès potency did not affect them as much as it would in other cases.
Meanwhile, the Minister announced that for the first time since the pandemic, there were no more COVID patients at Mater Dei Hospital. The total number of active cases is now down to 45. The public is being urged to remain cautious.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese authorities will extradite an Eritrean national, Muluwongel Woldu, 34, to Italy.
The Italian authorities were searching for her following accusations of human trafficking.
The accused was arrested in a detention center in Marsa.
Woldu had arrived in Malta in 2016 giving a false identity to the Refugee Commissioner Office to avoid being identified by the Maltese authorities and returned to Italy. She pleaded guilty to the charges of making false declaration to the Maltese authorities and was sentenced to one year in prison, suspendeed for one year.
Maltese investigators confirmed that the Eritrean came forward to the authorities recently in an attempt to be repatriated to Italy after she ran out of money.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – A record of 740kg of cocaine with a street value of around 100 million was intercepted by the Maltese customs at the Malta Freeport in a container en-route from Ecuador to Slovenia.
The container which was carrying 1,080 boxes of bananas, was screened following some discrepancies noted by the customs officials. The cargo was iinspected physically, and officials found 740 packets of white powder hidden in 37 boxes. Further investigations confirmed that the packets were full of high-purity cocaine. The packets of 1kg each, were hidden within the boxes of bananas.
The police in Malta are still investigating while magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo is leading an inquiry.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Maltese Energy Minister Miriam Dalli announced that Malta will get its second interconnector. The investment will have a capacity of 200MW and is estimated to cost 170 million. Minister Dalli confirmed that the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal to install a second interconnector, linking Malta to Ragusa in Sicily.
The Maltese government is foreseeing an increase in demand over the coming years to which it shall respond by diversifying in its source of energy, Dalli said, and added that energy generated through cleaner resources remains of utmost priority.
She explained that the government had assessed various connections, including Ragusa, Greece and Tunisia, and chose Ragusa for the advantages it offered over other locations.
The first interconnector, which was inaugurated in 2014, had already the infrastructure in place in case a second interconnector was installed. Minister Dalli said the process can start and the Maltese government aims to have the second interconnector up and running by 2025.
The key sources driving the demand in electricity over the coming years are GDP growth, electric vehicles and shore-to-ship supplies, an estimate increase in demand by 21% over six years.
The second interconnector is expected to result in a 58% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
The different options evaluated by the government included Malta-Calabria link, Malta-Hammamet, and Malta-Greece through the Ionian Coast.
Various factors were taken into consideration before the government finally settled for the Malta-Ragusa link. Apart from being the cheapest, it is also the least risky option. Moreover, an operational agreement is already in place which translates into a better stability.
On the gas pipeline, Minister Dalli said that it is still part of the Maltese government plans.