Masks made compulsory outdoors in Malta
Bars and clubs to close at 11pm from Monday amid increased fines and enforcement
- Σάββατο 17 Οκτώβριος 2020 20:30:00 EEST
Hours after Malta registered another record number of coronavirus cases, the government moved to impose tougher restrictions, including mandatory wearing of masks outdoors and in offices and shorter working hours for bars and clubs.
With a total of 2 882 tests carried out between Thursday and Friday, 122 people tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of active cases to 1 095. Announcing the details, Superintendent of Health Charmaine Gauci criticized the government for "lax" enforcement of COVID-19 measures, urging for obligatory wearing of masks everywhere except at home. The Malta Chamber of Commerce and the Malta Union of Bank Employees backed her plea for strict measures, including mask wearing.
Discipline is the message
Addressing the press while spelling out the new containment measures, Prime Minister Robert Abela stressed the need to strike a balance between human health and the wellbeing of the economy. "Life has to continue for everyone but everyone has to be responsible," said Abela, quoted by the Times of Malta.
Despite the rising number of cases, the situation is under control. The message is discipline. Everyone has to follow the rules or face fines, the prime minister said. If measures are not followed, the fines can be further increased, warned Abela, adding that more police officers will be deployed on the streets to enforce compliance.
Starting today, masks will be mandatory in all outdoor public places, at workplaces and schools. There are exceptions - they can be removed during physical activity, such as jogging and cycling, during conversations with people who depend on lip reading and when one travels alone in his vehicle.
Children under the age of three are exempt, as well as people suffering from respiratory conditions. Those not wearing masks will be fined EUR 100 from October 24.
Drinking establishments to close earlier
From Monday, bars and clubs will close at 11pm, but for restaurants it will be business as usual. All previous measures on public gatherings’ limits and social distancing remain in force.
Rapid testing which has a 95 percent reliability rate will start being used from 28 October, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced at the press conference.
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