Update -1922 – : Live Press Conference by Prime Minister
New restrictive measures and further announcement were the main novelties announced by Malta’s government during a Press Conference on Friday. The obligatory use of mask is to be further widespread in open spaces and work places. Apart from that, the government announced that it will be increasing the power of authorities by introducing fines for those breaching the new rules.
Entertainment and catering establishments will all be closing at 11pm, as of next Monday. This includes bars and band clubs.
Updated 1745- News Portal Briefing
Times of Malta reports that authorities have turned to students, trainees and retired health workers asking them to help with contact tracing as the numbers of COVID-19 cases reach record highs.
MaltaToday reports that the Nationalist Party will be launching an action plan, in light of “the government’s incompetence” in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Newsbook reports that minister for Finance and Financial Services Edward Scicluna outlined how the Government kept 65% of its 2020 budget promises despite Covid-19 disruptions.
TVM says Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli said this morning that Maltese authorities were informed that on a cruise liner which was on its way to Malta there was a possible case of Covid-19 which has not yet been confirmed.
Updated 1231 – Another record of cases, with family clusters mostly to blame
Health authorities reported another record number of new COVID-19 cases on Friday, with 122 people tested positive for the virus. This has brought up the total number of active cases to 1,095.
In her weekly briefing, Health Superintendent Prof Charmaine Gauci said that throughout this week there were 165 cases related to family clusters, which now contributes to 479 active cases. She also said that the average age of newly-infected patients was going down, with a number of new cases related to bars and football and waterpolo matches.
Gauci appealed for people to avoid crowds and respect social distancing rules. She said that during the weekend further measures will be announced.
Updated 1137 – Germany red-lists Malta, as MUBE calls for stricter measures
Malta has been placed on Germany’s red-list for travel purposes. Germany’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday warned against non-essential travel to France, the Netherlands, Malta and Slovakia from Saturday due to high coronavirus infection rates.
Meanwhile the Malta Union of Bank Employees urged the government to revert to strict COVID-19 preventive measures. In a statement this morning, it said that due to the “lack of effective enforcement and in the absence of any properly planned strategy, MUBE is calling on the government to step up its efforts because there is absolutely no room for complacency if the nation wants to reduce the risk of further spread and fatalities.
Updated 1022 – Malta Chamber appeals for stricter Covid guidelines
In view of the alarming increase in the number of COVID 19 contagions in recent days, The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry is compelled to appeal for stricter and clearer guidelines for all, as the situation needs management through leadership.
“The time for recommendations is over. It is now time for mandatory regulation and enforcement for all”, it insisted.
The Malta Chamber said that it was highly concerned by the sharp increase in numbers in the past days. With over a thousand live cases registered, and a contagion rate that does not seem to show any signs of slowing down, the country is risking a break-down in the public health sector as well as other essential services.
Updated 0853 – Newspaper Review
The Times claims that Europol threatened to pull out of the Caruana Galizia murder investigation last year unless action was taken against Melvin Theuma. Investigators in Malta were hesitant to arrest Theuma.
The Independent quotes Economy Minister Silvio Schembri who said that the Covid-19 voucher scheme produced a €52 million injection in the economy. Over 80 percent of the vouchers were redeemed by mid-October, worth €1.8 million.
L-Orizzont quotes Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri who said that officers are conducting hundreds of inspections every week to enforce Covid-19 measures. He appealed for more responsibility and discipline to contain the virus.
In-Nazzjon reports on a meeting between PN Leader Bernard Grech and European People’s Party president Donald Tusk. The meeting discussed the political situation in Malta and challenges in the Mediterranean region.
The Times quotes a report which says that Malta’s biodiversity ecosystem is the most vulnerable in the world. Compiled by the Swiss Re Institute, the report marks 100 percent of Malta’s ecosystem as fragile.
The Independent speaks to the president of the Chamber of Commerce Kevin Xuereb who said that Malta must draw lessons from the Moneyval audit. Xuereb said the Chamber is working with international partners to support good governance efforts.
L-Orizzont reports on a survey on the Covid-19 voucher system which shows that 54 percent of people want a similar scheme around Christmastime. A third of respondents said vouchers should be used for any type of goods or services.
In-Nazzjon reports that the number of active cases on Thursday soared to 1,009, the highest since the start of the pandemic. A record number of 112 new cases were registered in the previous 24 hours.
Daphne Project reveals Europol pressure on Theuma arrest
Europol threatened to abandon Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation last year unless action was taken to arrest self-confessed murder middleman Melvin Theuma, the Daphne Project has reported.
The Times of Malta, which forms part of the project, revealed that local investigators were reluctant to swoop in on Theuma, fearing they lacked enough evidence, even when intercepts indicated that he had recordings that could shed further light on the murder plot.
The recordings and Theuma’s testimony have eventually been used by the police to build a case against Tumas business entreprenuer Yorgen Fenech.
The details were released on the third anniversary of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death, which is remembered today.
Yorgen Fenech seeks to stop mobile data from being made public
Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers are requesting the court, presiding over journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder compilation, to ensure that electronic data concerning third parties who are unrelated to the case, is not divulged in public.
Prosecuting superintendent Keith Arnaud had previously told the court that officials from Europol would be presenting the mobile phone data in the acts of the compilation of evidence in the coming days.
Covid-19 Active cases exceed 1,000
Health authorities have announced 112 new cases of coronavirus in Malta. With 42 persons recovering, the number of active cases has now shot up to 1009. 3106 persons have recovered while 45 persons have died.
The new cases resulted from 2,481 swab tests. Government has said that an update on the stepping up of enforcement to help control the growing spread of COVID-19 will be given shortly. PM Abela said that this will include the presence of more police on the road.
The Union of Professional Educators has issued a number of directives to educators due to Covid-19. In a statement, it said that is was “shocked at how the Government is allowing educators to continue performing their duties without considering the, now obvious, threat they are being subjected to.”