Sunday, 25 April 2021, 10:55
Last update: about 4 hours ago
A number of Covid-19 restrictive measures will be lifted on Monday, including the opening of non-essential shops.
Non-essential services will be able to resume, he said, while adding that the number of people who will be able to be out in public in groups will rise to four. Museums will also be able to open.
The Prime Minister said that the number of households allowed to be in the same household has now risen to four.
He said that visits to patients in Mater Dei Hospital and Mt Carmel Hospital will also resume.
“With decisions we took, managed to keep number of people positive for Covid-19 under control,” he said, adding that the situations in hospitals was kept under control.
“The move towards normality will continue gradually,” he said, highlighting that there will be different phases not to put in danger what has been achieved thus far.
He announced that from 10 May, the government will relax a number of other measures. This will be another important step forward. In the coming days until we reach that date, thousands of more people would be vaccinated.
Restrictions planned to be lifted on 10 May
From 10 May, the following restrictions will be relaxed: Restaurants and snack bars will be able to open until 5pm with a maximum of four people at each table (After 5pm they will only be able to open for take-aways and deliveries), training for professional contact sports will be able to resume, non-contact sport would be able to completely resume without spectators, arts education and extra-curricular activities would be able to resume, religious doctrine education will be able to resume, open markets will be able to resume operations, travel restrictions between Malta and Gozo will be lifted.
This he said, is the plan created together with the medical experts.
He said that he is optimistic as now the government is attacking the virus with the vaccine and defending with the restrictive measures.
As of Sunday, 315,000 vaccine doses were administered, and around 100,000 people have had both doses of the vaccine, the Prime Minister said.
Abela said that the government has not stopped introducing initiatives to protect workers and businesses, adding that the government will continue to do this.
He said that the government has planned for targeted support schemes which will be announced in the coming days.
The Prime Minister also said that €45 million worth of vouchers will be given out to people aimed at stimulating consumption in a few weeks’ time.
“We are working hard for our aim to open for tourism on 1 June. We want a summer of work for the Maltese people.”
“We must all continue to follow the health authorities’ guidelines,” he stressed. “We still need discipline and to be responsible. The enforcement authorities will continue working as one team and we must continue to act maturely. That way, we can care for each other’s health while improving the quality of life for everyone.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said that while the pandemic is still in Malta, it is under control. “When compared to what is going on around the world, we see that here, in Malta, we have a measure of success in controlling it.”
He said that the measures taken were the right decision, as it seems that the number of Covid-19 cases went down. “This means that from 26 April, we are able to relax the measures we planned to relax. From the beginning we had said that the measures being lifted will need to be reintroduced if the Covid numbers go up again.”
On the visits to patients at Mater Dei Hospital and MT Carmel Hospital, he said that this will be done in a limited manner and in accordance with strict protocols. He said that if in the coming weeks the numbers remain low, then the government will be able to move on to the next round of measures that will be relaxed on 10 May.
He said that by Sunday night, 50% of adults would have taken, at least, the first dose of the vaccine.
Fearne said that currently, people aged 40+ are able to register to take the vaccine, either by going online to www.vaccin.gov.mt.Regarding
He said that over 90% of people aged 60+ have taken the vaccine. “If there are people above this age group who have not received an appointment they are asked to register on the aforementioned website.”
As for those aged 50-59, 64% have been vaccinated.
Regarding the vaccine certificate which the government intends to introduce in May, he said that this will facilitate travel of Maltese people who are vaccinated with both doses of the vaccine (Or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine). “This means that when travelling they will be able to do so without quarantine restrictions when coming back to Malta.”
“With countries outside the EU which Malta will have bilateral agreements with, vaccinated people will be able to go to them without any restrictions… The certificate will mean that Malta can accept tourists in a secure manner as the country will know if they are vaccinated.”
He said that when Malta starts accepting tourists more openly on 1 June, Malta will insist that those people travelling to Malta who are not vaccinated must have a negative PCR test before leaving their country. Those who are vaccinated can come without restriction.
Mass events will not start from 1 June
Fearne said that the government will be cautious, stressing that mass events will not start from June.
Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said stressed the need for people to follow the health authority guidelines.
She said that the positivity rate of the virus has reduced. The number of Covid patients in the ITU has also reduced.
Guidelines for measures lifted on Monday
Gauci highlighted the measures that will be in place for the services which open on Monday.
If an operator or owner of a shop notices that someone is unwell, then they have a right not to allow that person in.
The maximum amount of people who can be inside an establishment, be it a retail one or one offering a service, cannot exceed one person per 4 square metres. Shops will be required to indicate the maximum number of people allowed inside. The 2m social distancing measure inside such premises is to be followed. Hand sanitizers must also be available inside the premises. The use of masks is always required inside.
Changing rooms can be used in shops, but they must be sanitised after every person that uses them and the clothes that were tried on must be kept for 72 hours in a quarantine area before someone else can try them on.
In shopping malls, the maximum number of people allowed in shopping malls is equal to the total amount permissible according to the area of the individual shops inside. In addition, temperature checks will be required at the entrance to such malls.
As for non-essential services, which include hair dressers, barbers, beauticians and others, all that was mentioned for retail outlets apply and at reception desks there must be glass divider to protect the workers and clients. In addition, working stations must be 2m apart. If space is limited, shielding can be installed.
Cleaning of stations between clients is a must, and all equipment used must be cleaned between clients as well.
These sectors must keep records of all their clients for contact tracing purposes.
As for makeup services, they must use the clients’ own makeup as well as brushes, unless they are disposable. Steam and vapour procedures are to be avoided.
As for museums, she said that the amount of people allowed in is as per the 1 person per 4 square metre restriction, and social distancing must be observed inside at all times. The use of masks is obligatory.
As for weddings, she said that the government’s estimate is that they can start in 1 June, and the authorities will soon publish the guidelines. She said that there should be no more people in attendance than 1 person per 4 square metres of space, but there is a capping. For outdoor venues it will be 300 people and for indoor venues it will be 100 people. For now, weddings must follow restaurant protocols which where people will be seated with a maximum of 6 people at a table unless they are from the same household. Also there will be no dance floors, food will be served at the table and masks must be worn throughout except when eating. No bars or buffets will be allowed. Musicians will need to follow the relevant restrictions.
Taking questions from the press, Fearne clarified that when tourism opens up for the country, vaccine passports or a negative test will be needed. Those who do not produce a negative test result will not be allowed to even board the plane to Malta. “If anything, this will reduce the amount of tests that would need to be conducted in our country for tourists. However, we will still be prepared in case there is any doubt.”
Regarding the wearing of masks, Gauci remarked that the evidence is clear that masks prevent the virus from spreading. For now, no changes will take place regarding mandatory mask wearing.
Concerning bars, the Prime Minister said that he understands the bars and clubs’ concerns. He said that he will “let science guide us” in terms of when they will be allowed to open.
In terms of virus mutations, Fearne said that this is something the people have no control over. “We do not know yet the efficacy rate of the vaccines against new variants, but we know that all of them provide some form of protection, so they were not in vain. There could be variants that would be more powerful, and the European Commission is investing in development of vaccines for new variants.”
As for gyms, the Prime Minister said that they cannot open for now, and will also not be able to open on May 10.
Fearne also assured people that there is less risk this year in terms of tourism causing another wave since the vaccines provide the necessary safety.
He also remarked that Karin Grech Hospital will be open for visitors on Monday, as other hospitals will be.