As of next Thursday 29th October, all bars and local band clubs will remain closed. Furthermore, as of the same date, only 6 people can convene in public spaces instead of 10. In a statement issued by the Government, it was outlined that all bars and local band clubs will remain closed until 1st December 6am. Snacks bars and gabbanas may remain open, but in no circumstances can they serve, offer or sell any type of alcoholic beverages. They must also be closed between 11pm and 5am the next morning. Furthermore, only 6 people are allowed to convene in public spaces. This applies in queues and bus stops, unless the 2 metre distance is maintained. This measure does not apply for those who live within the same residence. Ignoring this measure will result in a €200 fine. If the fine is paid prior to proceedings being brought to the Justice Commissioner, the fine is reduced to €100.
These measures are coming into play following a consultation with the Superintendent of Public Health. Newsbook
Updated 1745- News Portal Briefing
Times of Malta reports that judges leading a public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia have said they are well aware of their remit and will fulfil it with transparency, after Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers likened them to a “Spanish inquisition”.
MaltaToday reports that President George Vella has appealed for people to live sustainably in their everyday lives as he warned that the balance between the economy and the environment risks being lost.
Newsbook reports that the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry is proposing extending the so-called Black Friday sales over four days this year in a bid to avoid overcrowding and the spread of Covid-19.
TVM reports that a Ghanaian man living in Marsalforn, Gozo, was seriously injured in an accident at a construction site in Gozo.
Updated 1238 – 80 new cases of coronavirus reported
Health authorities today reported 80 new cases and 63 recoveries, the first time in over a week with less than a three-digit increase. The newly-infected patients were identified through 2,811 tests carried out in the past 24 hours. The number of active cases now stands at 1,895.
Updated 1109 – Unemployment up by 1,717 in one year
In September, the number of persons registering for work stood at 3,385,
increasing by 1,717 when compared to the corresponding month in 2019. However, this figure reflects a slight decline from July, when the number of people looking for work stood peaked at 3,971.
Data provided by Jobsplus and published by the NSO for September 2020 indicate a year-on-year increase of 1,576 persons registering under Part I and an additional 141 persons registering under Part II of the unemployment register.
Registered unemployment levels increased across all age groups.
Those registering for work for less than 21 weeks and those registering between 21 and 52 weeks, increased when compared to September 2019 levels. The largest increase was recorded among persons who had been registering between 21 and 52 weeks.
On the other hand, those who had been registering for work for more than one year, decreased when compared to the same month in 2019.
Updated 1058: A 73-year-old man became Malta’s 53rd victim of the virus. The man passed away today after being diagnosed with Covid-19 a fortnight ago. He had been hospitalised since 18th October.
Updated 0813 – Newspaper Review
The Independent leads with an announcement by Pope Francis naming former Gozo Bishop Mario Grech a cardinal. A ceremony will elevate 13 churchmen to the rank of cardinal at St Peter’s Basilica on November 28.
L-Orizzont says that Mario Grech will be the third Maltese Cardinal in history after Fabrizio Sceberras Testaferrata and Prospero Grech. The paper says that as Bishop for Gozo, Mons. Grech was an advocate of social wellbeing.
The Times says that a couple filed an application before the Civil Court claiming a breach of human rights after they discovered that their daughter, who died in a road accident four years ago, was buried in a plastic bag instead of the clothes the family had provided.
In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech who said that the constitutional role of the Opposition is to voice the concerns of all people. Grech will this evening deliver his reply to the Budget in parliament.
L-Orizzont quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela who described the Budget as ‘principled’. Abela explained the measures and said that, in a difficult situation, the government chose to increase state support.
The Independent reports that the number of Covid-19 casualties climbed to 52 after two men died of the infection on Sunday: an 82-year-old and a 75-year-old. 33 of the victims so far were men and 19 were women.
The Times says that dairy farmers have been informed by Malta Dairy Products that demand for milk is falling with the disruption of the pandemic and a fifth of their produce could soon be surplus.
L-Orizzont carries an interview with a Maltese expat who is suffering from the symptoms of Covid-19 despite having repeatedly tested negative. Larry Debono says that he has developed breathing difficulties and may need to use inhalers for the rest of his life.
Updated 0717 – Doctors call again for restrictive measures
The doctors’ association warned this morning that unless urgent restrictive measures were taken to curb COVID-19, Malta faced a signficant risk of seeing the collapse of the healthcare system.
In a statement, doctors said that soon most elective operations may have to be cancelled as staff will have to be redeployed. While the ministry claims to have 100 ventilators, the staff available can only cater for about a quarter of that number, they said.
Furthermore there is a day’s waiting list for urgent swabbing, and 5-6 days for other patients. Contact tracing has been overwhelmed by cases and rendered ineffective. Doctors said that unlike other unions, the MAM and UHM have accepted that a number of their members help out with case management and contact tracing, however a considerable backlog of several days has accumulated.
Covid-19: Malta’s death tally rises again
A 75-year-old man was confirmed as the 52nd person to die of Covid-19 on Sunday. The Ministry of Health said that the man had tested positive for Covid-19 on 23 October and was admitted to Mater Dei Hospital earlier today, where he ultimately succumbed to the disease.
Meanwhile, 125 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the previous 24 hours, with 89 persons recovering, the Health Ministry said. This brings the total number of cases to just under 5,500 with 1,800 being active ones.
PM Robert Abela yesterday expressed his disappointment after the 11pm bar curfew saw large crowds gather in St George’s Bay, despite COVID-19 regulations calling for social distance and minimising social gatherings.
Health Minister expects cases to increase
Deputy PM and Health Minister Chris Fearne warned that coronavirus cases will increase in the colder months, but maintained that the situation remained under control.
“During the summer months, we had already predicted that numbers will start to increase again come September, it just happens that the EU started seeing a rise from August instead. However, we expected that cases increase during the winter as it is easier for any virus, including the flu, to spread since people start meeting more in closed spaces. Malta’s weather is yet to switch completely, which is why we are foreseeing higher number soon.”
Fearne added that tThe best weapon we had against this virus was social distancing, so we have to keep avoiding crowds. We also have strengthened our measures at the airport as well to reduce risks of imported cases without having to close the airport.”
PN Leader to formally react to budget this evening
PN leader Bernard Grech is expected to deliver his official reaction to the budget in Parliament this evening. In a comment on the party’s radio yesterday, Grech noted how Labour had created an economy based on “construction n, consumption, and numbers alone” ahead of his first Budget speech in parliament tomorrow night. He insisted that last week’s budget failed to present a longer-term strategy and an economic vision.
Grech also had strong words on the way Government handled the coronavirus pandemic. While recognising Government’s approach for adopting immediate measures to deal with the pandemic, he blamed PM Robert Abela for insisting that the war against the virus had been won, giving the public a false sense of security.
Meanwhile, in a video aired on Facebook, the PN leader called for national unity during these difficult times: “We can become stronger by cleaning up the problems we were forced to face in recent years, by creating new economic sectors and not depend solely on schemes that tarnish our reputation.”