Prime Minister Robert Abela announced an 11pm curfew for bars and band clubs (kazini) from Monday, as Malta continues to register new records for COVID-19 cases over a 24-hour period.
On Friday, 122 new cases were found, while a total of 316 cases between Tuesday and Thursday were registered. The number of active cases stands at 1,095, the highest since the pandemic began.
Prime Minister Abela said that this is a critical time in the country’s fight against COVID-19. He said that life must go on but people must also act responsibly.
Dr Abela also announced the mandatory use of face masks in public from tomorrow (Saturday) and greater enforcement of social distancing.
He said the compulsory use of masks covers workplaces and outdoors, with some exceptions. Fines will be going up from €50 to €100, but this will not come into force for another week.
Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci, who also addressed the event, explained that it will be legally obligatory for people to carry a mask on their person, while masks must be used when outside of the house, except in specific scenarios.
Exception on mask use in public are as follows: while in a private vehicle, while carrying out rigorous physical exercise – such as jogging or cycling, those who depend on lip reading, public speakers (although adequate distance must be maintained), places where identification is required (although briefly, until identification is verified), while receiving face treatments/services and while at table at a restaurant.
Prime Minister Robert Abela said that although cases have gone up, the situation remains under control.
Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne remarked that as like in other European countries, people were experiencing “COVID fatigue”, and so rules are being observed less.
He stressed observance of groups of 10 people. When responding to questions by the press, the Deputy Prime Minister said he was not expecting people to live like this for years, and that there was hope for a vaccine in 2021 and that Malta will be among the first countries to receive it.
Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri remarked that increased police presence will be felt as the authorities seek to ensure COVID measures are being restricted.