Valletta’s streets were eerily quiet on Tuesday morning, with many shops remaining closed and only a handful of tourists wandering around the streets of the capital.
Many people are heeding the advice given by the health authorities in a bid to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus and are staying indoors.
The Malta Independent went to Republic Street at 11am where, under normal circumstances, the area would be buzzing with commercial and touristic activity. But there were not more than a few dozen people walking up and down the usually busy street.
The same could be said for Merchants Street, where most shops remained closed and cafes and snack shops were empty. Most coffee shops were not selling food.
Food courts and shopping malls were deserted and only the pharmacies had some clients.
The Upper Barrakka Gardens and Castille Square, usually a tourist hotspot, were completely empty.
Activity at the Law Courts was minimal, except for an urgent murder arraignment, and all the musuems are closed.
Businesses have reported in the past few days that sales are just 15% of what they normally are during this time of the year, and a number of retailers have written to the Prime Minister asking for measures to address this business shortfall.
Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said on Monday evening that more economic measures will be announced by the end of this week. Schembri said that, while the government will help, businesses cannot expect it to make up for all of their losses with taxpayer money, or with the €600 million made from the passport sale scheme.
Prime Minister Robert Abela announced yesterday that bars and restaurants will be closed from midnight today. Mass events have also been discouraged, and this is expected to have a significant impact on the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, which usually focus around the Spinola area in St Julian’s.
The Malta Independent also went to the University of Malta, where not a soul could be seen at the Quadrangle, one of the most popular student hangout areas. Lectures have been postponed, and all schools have been closed for a week. The government is expected to announce whether this closure will continue in the coming weeks.
Video: Alenka Falzon