Malta-24 – News Briefing – Sunday 14th June 2020

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Updated 1409

MHRA welcomes full re-opening of airport

In a statement, the hotels and restaurants lobby group welcomed the news that Malta’s airport to all international destinations will resume operations by mid July. 

The MHRA said in a statement: “We are extremely pleased to note that our lobbying has been successful and Malta’s airport will now open to all countries. This is very good news and fills us with great determination to turn the situation around. It is going to be a difficult three months but we are certain that, pulling together, we can make what is an extremely difficult situation into one which, managed well, can have some reward.”

Updated 1233

The Health Department said that three new cases were identified during the past 24 hours. These cases form part of a previous cluster, which now includes a total of 17 cases.

1,310 swabs were carried out yesterday, a relatively high number for a Saturday.

These three new cases, bring up Malta’s total to just one short of 650. With two people recovering, the country now has 37 active cases.

In his blog on The Malta Independent, statistician Vincent Marmara said that while this week saw a slight increase in new COVID-19 cases when compared to the previous week, the situation seems to be stable and under control. “When you compare the total number of new cases against the total number of tests performed, one can see a slight increase of 0.3% over the previous week.”

But the increase in cases was the result of transmission within a cluster of people, he explained. This means that people passed on the virus to others in the same group, and the virus was restricted to one particular group.

In his blog he adds that  “once that cluster is being controlled, there is nothing to worry about. If they are not transmitting the virus to people outside the group, then the situation is being controlled and there is no cause for alarm.”

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Updated 1155

Public health emergency to be lifted

The public health emergency enacted at the onset of the pandemic in Malta will be lifted shortly. The Prime Minister said this will mean that all legal notices related to Covid-19 will be lifted, including restrictions on gatherings.

The PM appeared to hint that the use of masks will carry no legal obligation but based on public health guidelines he noted that this is a safety practice which would be good to follow.

Updated 1120 – New safe destinations announced

The Prime Minister has this morning announced six new countries to Malta’s list of destinations considered as “safe flights”. These are France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Croatia and Greece. There will however be some exceptions. Northern Italy will be excluded from the list, as will be one region in both Spain and France, where the number of cases is still a matter of concern.

All other destinations will be opened by 15 July.

 

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The first full week since the re-opening of practically all establishments in Malta and Gozo has gone by, with business owners sharing mixed results so far. While the general public appears to have started to let its guard down slightly, with popular beaches packed throughout yesterday, a level of hesitancy in dining out appears to persist.

After concerning developments between Wednesday and Friday, when 13 new coronavirus cases were identified, the Health Department yesterday said that just one case resulted from over a thousand swab tests the previous day. Additionally, it said that all the tests carried out in relation to contact tracing of the five cases identified on Thursday had resulted as negative.

While this week saw a slight increase in new COVID-19 cases when compared to the previous week, the situation seems to be stable and under control, statistician Vincent Marmara said in his weekly vlog with The Malta Independent on Sunday.

Marmara said the reproduction number is currently 0.45, which is similar to the previous week. “Despite a slight increase in cases over the previous week, when considering the fact that the new infections were confined to one cluster, and that the r-factor remains below one, one can say that the situation is stable and under control.”

After having been forced to close their doors to the public last March, Maltese and Gozitan churches were able to celebrate Mass as from yesterday evening, with strict social distancing protocols applying. The celebration of Mass had been stopped since 12th March, five days after the first case appeared in Malta, with the Church making arrangements for  daily live transmission. Malta’s mosque re-opened Friday.

In an op-ed on the Sunday Times, entitled Be part of the national effort Prime Minister Robert Abela said that over recent months Malta faced the biggest challenge our young republic ever faced. “I remember the doom and gloom of the first weeks when tens of thousands were forecast would fall ill. I remember the predictions that tens of thousands would end up jobless. Undaunted, two teams worked incessantly. One focused on efforts to overcome the medical emergency. The second tried to limit the economic collateral and prepared earnestly for the relaunch.”

He also appealed to those in Malta so that to protect the livelihood of their families invest in the livelihood of others. “Your purchase is someone’s income, which soon enough will become your income again when that someone purchases what you produce. Support your local businesses. In truth, you are supporting yourself. Become a tourist in your country. Millions save for months to be able to visit us. You just need to hop on a bus, ride a bike or drive your car. You will not only enjoy yourself. You will sustain your fellows. If you want to save intelligently, support our regeneration plan. Help us sustain the transformation of our economy. You will not only earn interest. You will earn a new economy that will create better jobs for your family and friends. Together we stood against COVID-19. Together we overcame fear and despair. Together we will build a better tomorrow.”

Politics

In other news, the Nationalist Party executive committee has adopted the draft new statute that will give the PN the tools to work for a better Malta. The amendments also aim at introducing new elements in the party’s structure and organisation. The 140-year-old party will however retain its name after the members voted down the proposal to change the name and its motto.

The statute is divided into six sections and 170 articles, and will be presented to the general council for discussion, the PN said.

CDE News

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