During a news conference held at the Auberge de Castille yesterday evening, Prime Minister Robert Abela, together with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne, Minister for the Interior and National Security Byron Camilleri and Superintendent of Health Charmaine Gauci, announced a number of measures to control the spread of Covid-19.
In fact, it was announced that from today the wearing of masks outdoors, except for a few exceptions, will be mandatory, more enforcement will be carried out by the four relevant authorities while entertainment establishments such as bars and clubs will close by 11pm.
The Prime Minister stressed that the Government is taking a position of responsibility towards all the people, which responsibility we are asking to be shouldered by everyone to protect the vulnerable. On the other hand, Dr Abela stated, there are those in this country who are content with this calamity and want to do everything to ruin the economy and businesses.
The Prime Minister said that we are at a critical moment to control the Covid-19 but at the same time we must protect the livelihood of people and their jobs. “A number of measures will be announced on Monday to address the economy. Health comes first but life must continue. The workers want to work, our children want to go to school,” said Prime Minister Robert Abela.
“To do this we must be responsible and take care of each other. No one has yet found any magic formula to stop the pandemic without ruining an economy and losing jobs. Cases have increased, but the situation is under control, we must protect the vulnerable, but we must take care of daily life,” the Prime Minister reiterated.
Deputy Prime Minister Fearne reiterated that after a while the so-called pandemic fatigue set in and this led to perhaps a lack of discipline and therefore it is necessary to take these measures.
He said that in addition to enforcement there is a need for more education while explaining that we already have efficient enforcement being done by LESA, the MTA, the Police and the Environment Directorate where 150,000 inspections were carried out this summer. The Deputy Prime Minister said that there was an agreement with the Malta Tourism Authority where it is agreed that establishments that are found to violate the rules repeatedly, their license will be revoked.
He explained that establishments such as bars and clubs must start closing at 11pm with effect from Monday. As for restaurants, there have been no problems in this regard so they will be able to do more from 11pm. The use of masks has so far been mandatory by law to be used in places such as public transport, shops, inland public places — this was and will remain by law. Failure to do so will result in a fine of € 50 rising to € 100 if not paid.
From tomorrow, the mask must be worn everywhere including workplaces except for a few exceptions — but a one-week grace period will be given until people get accustomed to it, and fines will be imposed from the week after, said the Minister of Health.
The Deputy Prime Minister also announced that rapid testing will begin on 28 October. This will be used initially at the airport, by the Department of Education in schools, in medical places such as emergency and primary care and even in nursing homes.
Finally, Deputy Prime Minister Fearne announced that in the first six days there were 75,000 people who received the flu vaccine and claimed that our country has ordered more of this vaccine so that we will have as a country at our disposal 250,000 flu vaccines.
On his part, Minister Byron Camilleri explained how the authorities concerned would be working while Professor Gauci explained that everything was based on science while explaining the circumstances in which one would be exempt from wearing the mask, including in one’s private car and even while doing physical activity.