This evening Government sought Parliamentary approval authorising it to secure a 2 billion euro loan required to provide the necessary assistance related to the health and economic impact of Covid-19.
Home Affairs Byron Camilleri announced new restrictive measures to avoid public gatherings.
The Minister expressed his gratitude at the work of law enforcement officers and expressed his disappointment that a number of people yesterday flaunted directives and enjoyed time out in groups. For this reason, a new legal notice will be issued reducing groups of people that will be allowed together to three. Groups of four or more can be fined up to 100 euro per person. The police mounted and dogs sections will be assisting.
Due consideration will be given to places where queues form in a natural manner such as banks and bus stops. However, a two-metre safety distance needs to be observed.
Wi-fi in public spaces will be restricted to avoid people gathering in such areas.
The Minister called on the public to take responsibility in protecting each other but issued a stark warnings that if these directives are not respected Government will not think twice before increasing these fines and taking additional measures.
BOV branches not opening on Saturdays
Bank of Valletta’s branches will not open on Saturdays until further notice. The Bank said in a statement that this measure is being taken until further notice to reduce the chance of employees from coming into contact with people infected with the coronavirus.
PN puts forward initiatives for COVID-19 response
The Partit Nazzjonalista has put forward a number of initiatives to support households in the handling of the impacts arising out of the Covid-19 Crisis. MP Claudio Grech said that while the Opposition welcomed new measures announced so far by Government, it is coming forward with additional proposals that help safeguard the economy and employment.
MP Grech criticised what he discussed as Government backtracking on a number of safety measures taken last week. “Clear direction of decisions taken were required.” Grech appealed for the general public to observe social distancing as this was an important element in addressing the spreading the virus”.
Grech explained that the new measures are required as social distancing, while crucial, will create additional economic disruption. The Nationalist Party is keeping in mind first and foremost those households who practically consume what they earn in the same month.
The Nationalist Party said that Government needs to clarify those employees, irrespective of the industry, who have been materially affected. “Government has been too selective” when identifying affected workers. The Opposition is proposing that the definition is based on businesses having lost 50% or more of their activity or cash flow. This includes creative industries, including the media, particular health sectors, such as physiotherapy. “If Government continues to ignore these sectors, these will suffer irreparable damage”. Moreover, this was creating a health risk, as these persons had no other option than continue trying to return to work.
Other PN proposals, which were explained by MPs Ivan Bartolo and Karl Gouder include:
- Reduce Household Utility Bills by 50% with effect from 9th March 2020
- Support Church, Private Schools and Extra-curricular providers.
- Private Rent Moratorium.
- Housing Authority Rent Moratorium for those living in social accomodation.
- Financing of a programme for NGO’s to provide support to the elderly and vulnerable
- A one-time grant to the elderly to get connected.
- Campaign to avoid abuse in pricing of essential items.
Five new cases today taking total to 156
Five new cases of coronavirus were registered in the past 24 hours in Malta. These new cases, which all concern Maltese citizens, were identified after 637 swabs were examined across two centres in Malta and one in Gozo.
Three of these cases are related to travel, including a man returning from Mexico and a woman from the UK. Both had immediately self-quarantined. The third case relates to a health care worker, who also returned to work and reported to work for a brief period. The necessary contact tracing is taking place. One of these patients, not identified by Dr Gauci, is currently in Gozo.
The other two cases appear to be locally transmitted, with two Maltese women reporting symptoms last week, having neither travelled nor been in contact with persons which were previously identified as positive. One of these two, a 44-year old, had reported to work and the necessary contact tracing is taking place.
Prof Gauci explained that there are currently five patients in the Infectious Diseases Unit at Mater Dei, 17 at St. Thomas’ Hospital as well as four patients in Intensive Therapy. Malta now has 156 total cases of COVID-positive patients.
The Health Superintendent announced the creation of a new email to support vulnerable persons with clarifications which they might require: email@example.com.
TV, Film industry welcome Government move to include sector for major financial assistance
The television and film industry has welcomed Government’s decision to include its sector in the list of sectors which were are suffering the biggest productivity and financial losses due to the coronavirus. The Malta Producers Association in a statement noted that it considered as ‘natural’ the inclusion of film and television in the creative industries which had suffered a major blow with a number of productions coming to a sudden stop in the current crisis.
A rainy morning ushers the beginning of a new week in Malta, as the island, together with the rest of the world, continues to combat the spread of the epidemic. Although news during the weekend was rather encouraging, with a dozen cases reported between Saturday and Sunday, authorities have been very clear that the virus is still in its early stages locally and warned against complacency.
Despite the beautiful Spring weather characterising the weekend, most people largely followed instructions and stayed inside. However, online portals did publish a number of images sent in by readers who witnessed a few groups of people gathering in popular locations such as Mellieha, Armier, Qawra and the Sliema promenade. Authorities have confirmed that the police was called to break up groups of 5 people or more who were gathered in public.
In the last 24 hours, police offers also carried out 470 inspections in Malta and 160 in Gozo. No breaches were found.
As of today, ARMS offices in Blata l-Bajda, Valletta, and Gozo will remain closed until further notice. Clients can still utilise ARMS’ services via 80072222 or firstname.lastname@example.org