COVID-19, Malta will start returning to normal as from Friday
The Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela announced that as from next Friday, businesses will reopen their doors after having closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Prime Minister who was addressing a press conference, said that the Maltese have been making sacrifices for the past two months and faced the pandemic in an admirable way.
Abela declared that Malta can start relaxing some of its measures, a decision taken by the government based on the low number of coronavirus cases, as well as on the way Malta prepared to control the coronavirus pandemic.
“Malta’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been praised by international entities, including the World Health Organisation”, remarked the Prime Minister.
Restaurants will reopen with maximum of 6 tables including measures to ensure social distance, and it is being recommended to the owners to put tables outside. Hairdressers, barbers and nail technicians will reopen with restrictive measures and open air markets will also be allowed to reopen. Hotels may reopen, under certain social distancing protocols, but the airport will stay shut.
As from Friday, the government will introduce new social measures; groups of 6 people will be allowed to gather in public instead of 4, open-air cinemas will be allowed to operate whilst still maintaining social distancing, individual sports such as tennis will be allowed too, training can be done outside as long as the group is not larger than 6.
Meanwhile, cardiology and well-baby clinics will re-open, as well as health clinics in the community where mental health services will be offered too. At Mater Dei hospital, more outpatients clinics will reopen and other services to increase the non-urgent operations will start again, IVF service to be offered again and partner of woman giving birth will be allowed in.
Following a meeting between the Maltese bishops and Minister for Health Chris Fearne and Superintendent for Public Health Prof. Charmaine Gauci, it was agreed that funeral masses will be allowed to be celebrated once again but with certain restrictions.
Child care centres, gyms and bars will remain closed.
The Superintendent of Public Health, Professor Charmaine Gauci who addressed the press conference too, said that these decisions followed a risk assessment by the health authorities to determine what is deemed safe and what is not. She stressed that people must follow the guidelines set by the authorities.
The Superintendent said that at the hairdressers for instance, people must still maintain 2 metres distance between them. When this cannot be done, perspex should be installed to eliminate contact. She added that appointments should be given to avoid large gatherings and the wearing of masks in shops is mandatory.
Meanwhile, the Maltese Prime Minister said that these decisions are not a result of a compromise between economy and health, but the scientific proof shows that the next rational step is the reopening of businesses announced today. He advised those watching to not let their actions be clouded by fear. However, he said that his advice and message to the people is being given with caution.
Health Minister Chris Fearne said that the health authorities had to turn the threat of a tsunami which overcame other countries into a river, and 9 weeks later, it seems like they managed. He commented on how Malta entered this pandemic in an adequate, researched way, and steps were taken accordingly. However, Minister Fearne said that Malta needs to be even more cautious now.
The Medical Association of Malta and the union respresenting the nurses showed their disappointed that the government is putting economic interests before health and appeals to the Maltese public to remain very alert and cautious, insisting staying at home remains the safest option.
The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association appealed to the government that now is time to steer the direction towards reigniting the economy through the tourism sector whilst ensuring reasonable safety measures.
The association also stated that if the government does not open the airport then we shall see mass unemployment.