Malta-24 News Briefing Thursday 30th July 2020

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Updated 1234 – Nine new cases of coronavirus, excluding infections among migrants

The Health Department said there were nine new cases in Malta, almost all of which are under 35 years of age. Four of these cases form part of the St Venera feast cluster. The Department said that the number of infections among the migrants who disembarked earlier this week, have risen to 85. The Department is not adding these latter cases to the official tally, which now reads 729 cases, 55 of which being active.

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Update 1133  – Emirates terminates Malta-Dubai links, terminates local jobs

Online portal Lovin Malta reveals this morning  that Emirates airline has discontinued its daily operations from Dubai to Malta on a permanent basis. The decision is attributed to problematic months for the company in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All local Emirates staff have also been made redundant, the portal adds.

Updated 1043 – Police makes two arrests, reveals name of victims in Mqabba shooting

The police have arrested two men, aged 19 and 18, who are being considered as prime suspects in the murder of Saviour Gaffarena, 27, from Imqabba, who was shot dead yesterday night.

His cousin Vince Gafferna, 17, was wounded in the shooting.

The police are also questioning another man and women, aged 17 and 18 respectively.

Updated 0823 – Newspaper Review

Business Today reports that Malta Airport registered a 67 percent decrease in revenue in the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2019. Revenues for the first half of 2020 were just under €30 million.

The Malta Business Weekly says that the Medical Association sent a declaration of dispute to the Health Ministry, warning of industrial actions unless a ban on mass gatherings is imposed by Monday.

The Independent quotes Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli who dismissed an outright ban on mass events. She said that ‘a balanced approach’ should instead be taken. A cluster of 20 Covid-19 infections is linked directly to a three-day hotel party in mid-June.

The Times reports that organisers of several popular parties and events, including local feasts, have announced their cancellation in the wake of a sharp increase in coronavirus cases stemming from mass gatherings.

L-Orizzont asks Health Minister Chris Fearne about the recent spike in Covid-19 infections which have pushed the number of active cases to 112. The minister urged people to avoid situations where social distancing cannot be maintained.

In-Nazzjon reports that the Nationalist Party councillors are casting their votes to decide whether to hold a vote of confidence in leader Adrian Delia or open a fresh leadership race. A quarter of the 1,630 councillors have voted in the early election.

The Times quotes Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo who said that the new Police Commissioner has ‘a golden opportunity’ to deepen the investigation into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. He was testifying before the public inquiry about the case.

The Independent follows the Caruana Galizia public inquiry on Wednesday during which Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo testified that chief of staff Keith Schembri had too much influence over the Muscat administration.

Business Today quotes Hotels and Restaurants Association president Tony Zahra who warned that an outright ban on mass events would be detrimental to the economy. He called for the enforcement of safety protocols.

The Malta Business Weekly quotes a UK online travel agency Loveholidays which lists Gozo beaches Mġarr ix-Xini and San Blas among the 20 most secluded beaches in Europe. The destinations were selected according to the number of mentions on Triadvisor.com.

L-Orizzont reports that the opposition voted in favour of the bill on rule of law presented by the government after threatening to vote against. A series of amendments were presented by the opposition, including about the method of appointing the President.

In-Nazzjon quotes Opposition Leader Adrian Delia who described the vote in parliament on amendments to public appointments as historic. He said the opposition was instrumental to establish strong institutions that protect citizens.

Morning Briefing

Murder in Mqabba

One.com.mt reports that a man has been killed in Mqabba after a shooting late on Wednesday night. The incident happened Triq il-Konvoy ta’ Santa Marija in Mqabba,

The man’s body was found next to the driver’s side of a silver Renault Megane in the middle of the road.

Coronavirus in Malta

Hard words flew between political authorities and health professionals in view of the recent spike in coronavirus cases. The doctors association, in the strongest action to data, threatened industrial action should mass events not be banned, requesting a limit to gatherings of ten people. The statement was rebutted by the Tourism Minister, Julia Farrugia Portelli who ruled out total bans and called for a balanced approach with clearer health protocols.

In what seemed to be a dig at the new proposal by the medical association, the Minister recalled that doctors had suggested a total lockdown during the early days of the pandemic.

The number of active cases of coronavirus has gone up to 46, excluding 66 cases which form part of the cohort of migrants who disembarked yesterday.

Constitutional Reforms

Yesterday evening Parliament approved with a two-thirds vote a historic constitutional and institutional reform with the aim of further strengthening the institutions and public administration.

These amendments will, among others; lead to a new way of appointing the President of the Republic; change the manner in which members of the Judiciary are appointed and removed; strengthen the Ombudsman’s Office, where this role will now be enshrined in the Constitution; and for the provision of judicial review of the Advocate General’s decisions.

Amendments to the Bill dealing with amendments to strengthen the Permanent Commission Against Corruption were also passed unanimously.

Government said in a statement that these reforms were a result of a structured dialogue held with the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

Government said that these reforms will ensure that our country will gain even more credibility on European and international stages, reaffirming that Malta is a nation where effective democracy reigns and where there is full respect for the rule of law, and good governance.

CDE News

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