The wearing of masks will be made mandatory outdoors and bars and clubs will be ordered to shut by 11pm in a new wave of measures intended to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
The press conference announcing the new measures was held by Prime Minister Robert Abela, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, The Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Galea and Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri.
Prime Minister Robert Abela said that Malta is at a critical moment in terms of controlling Covid-19. Referring to the budget, he said: “On Monday, the government will announce economic measures to help Maltese and Gozitans to safeguard their jobs and to keep businesses strong.”
People can remove their mask in certain situations: while in their homes; when in their private cars; when doing strenuous physical activity like jogging and cycling outdoors (however masks must be carried and worn when stopping such activity); when alone in their office; when people are speaking with a person who needs to read lips to communicate; when public speaking at an activity but social distancing must be observed; in situations when identification is required but masks must be worn right before and after; when a person undergoes a treatment on their face; when sitting down and eating at a restaurant.
The new measures impacting establishments will come into effect on Monday. Those not wearing masks in all outdoor public places will be fined from October 24 though the measure comes into effect from Saturday.
Despite the surge in cases, the Prime Minister announced that the situation is under control.
Deputy Prime Minister Fearne said it was important to act prudently at a time when COVID-19 infections were increasing. He said that rapid testing kits that will give results within 30 minutes, will be introduced as from 28 October and will be used in certain circumstances.
On a succesful note, Fearne said that in the first six days of the flu vaccine being administered, 75,000 people had taken the jab.
Malta has registered a fresh record of 122 new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours as active cases now stand at 1,095, according to the latest medical update.
In her weekly update on Friday, Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci said there were six patients at Mater Dei Hospital’s intensive therapy unit. Another 12 patients were recovering at the infectious diseases unit and 14 people were recovering in other wards at Mater Dei.
Other people that are hospitalised include: 14 at Boffa Hospital, 19 at St Thomas Hospital, and one each at Karen Grech, Mount Carmel and Gozo Hospital.
There are 18 active cases in Gozo. The seven-day average of new cases was now approaching 100 per day.
Gauci said the average age of new cases this week decreased to 38, reflecting the surge in family and work clusters.
She asked people who test positive with COVID to immediately go into isolation at home by also confining themselves to particular rooms and avoid direct contact with other family members.
She also called for preventive measures to be implemented at workplaces and those that can offer teleworking should do so.
Gauci also urged people to avoid after-work drinks with colleagues to minimise contact time.
Times of Malta / Malta Independent / MaltaToday