Nine cases of Covid-19, lowest since July / Malta News Briefing – Thursday 6 May 2021

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Updated 1745 – News Portal Briefing

Times of Malta reports that the health authorities are considering the use of vaccine certificates for mass events to be held once the rules on public gatherings are lifted in the coming months

MaltaToday reports that a court has heard how a police sergeant charged with raping a woman whilst on duty appeared to be on drugs before the assault.

Newsbook reports that the Planning Authority (PA) today announced the approval of a hotel and two residential blocks that will replace the derelict Grand Hotel Verdala which was built in 1970 along the ridge-edge of Tal-Virtu limits of Rabat. 

TVM reports that the Federation of Hunters, Trappers and Conservationists (FKNK) has officially requested the Government to immediately remove the Commissioner for Children Pauline Miceli and Animal Welfare Commissioner, Alison Bezzina.

Updated 1245- Covid-19 Update

There were nine new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, with 29 recoveries. This has lowered the number of active cases to 260. No deaths were registered in the past 24 hours.

Updated 1046 – Timeline for easing of restrictions announced

Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that as from Monday 17 May Government will release further social restrictions, particularly relating to the protocol on visits to the elderly. In the coming weeks, these persons will be allowed to leave these premises in an organised way.

As from Monday 24:

Restaurants and snack bars will be allowed to operate till Midnight.
Pools will be allowed to re-open until 8pm for swimming activity only.
Re-opening of gyms, but classes will not be permitted
Re-opening of day centres
Contact sports (not team sports) will be allowed for persons aged over 17
Sports for children will not resume for the time being as not to put at risk examinations taking place in the weeks after.

Weddings will resume as from 1st June, as will the re-opening of Language schools.

By the 7th of June, restaurants and snack bars will be allowed to host six persons on each table. Bars and Kazini will be allowed to re-open, while team sport will be allowed to re-open.

Contact sport will resume for youngsters below the age of 17.

The Minister explained that “the pandemic is still ongoing and in various continents, with this week being one of the worst since its onset. On the other hand, in our country, the numbers remained manageable. He revealed that there were only nine new cases yesterday, taking the active case tally down to 260. This is the lowest figure since August, he said. The positivity rate is at 1.2%. Patients in intensive care have also decreased substantially, now standing at five”.

In this background, further restrictive measures can be reduced so that people can get on with their lives. Fearne warned that if numbers increased, the removal as restrictions may be pushed back.

On Monday, extra-curricular activities will resume, such as art or dancing schools, as well as non-contact sport will resume. Open air markets, travelling between Malta and Gozo will resume, while restaurants and snackbars, seating no more than four people on each table, will be allowed to re-open until 5pm.

Newspaper Review

The Malta Business Weekly speaks with business and professional bodies about the Moneyval assessment. Leaders said that the initial feedback was positive and that the test is crucial for Malta’s reputation.

The Times reports that the police have established evidence of a plan for businessman Yorgen Fenech to transfer an apartment to the head of the Economic Crimes Unit, Ray Aquilina. Fenech would sell the apartment to Aquilina’s parents at a heavily reduced price.

Business Today quotes Chamber of SMEs CEO Abigail Mamo who welcomed announcements by the PN to revise taxation for domestic businesses. Mamo said that incentives for foreign companies creates a disadvantage for local investors.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech who said that party proposals for a new corporate taxation system will encourage foreign investment while creating a level playing field for business operating in Malta.

L-Orizzont speaks with Hotels and Restaurants Association president Tony Zahra who said that a partial re-opening is better than a total ban on catering establishments. He said, however, that some restaurants only operate in the evenings.

The Independent reports that developers are advertising properties in an apartment block in Xewkija that is still awaiting a recommendation by the Planning Authority case officer.  The site is in a green area but within the development zone.

The Malta Business Weekly reports that the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit is setting up a team to enforce a cash restriction of €10,000 introduced in March. The cap applies to transactions in all business activities.

L-Orizzont picks up a Facebook post by PN MP Adrian Delia challenging fellow MP Jason Azzopardi to sue him. The post followed a message by Azzopardi who welcomed a court sentence that found a Delia loyalist guilty of defamation.

In-Nazzjon announces that the Nationalist Party has called an urgent meeting of its executive committee this evening to discuss potential breaches of social media rules imposed by the party on its parliamentary group members.

The Independent says that passenger movement at the airport fell by 76 per cent in 2020 compared to the year before. A spokesperson, however, said that forecasts for the second half of 2021 are promising.

The Times speaks to Minister Michael Falzon who was responsible for St Vincent de Paul Residence when a controversial €274 million contract was awarded. Falzon said that the contract should have been presented to the Cabinet for approval.

In-Nazzjon follows the testimony of Brian Tonna before the parliamentary accounts committee. The Nexia BT managing partner confirmed that former minister Konrad Mizzi was a client, but he could not recall how much the company was paid for its services.

Business Today says that Corinthia Group has secured a deal to operate The Surrey Hotel in New York from 2023, making it the first foray by the hotel company in the United States. Built in 1926, The Surrey offers a range of luxury residences, suites, and guest rooms.

Morning Briefing

PM in quarantine after Lydia Abela tests positive

Prime Minister Robert Abela has announced that he and his family will have to observe a period of quarantne after his wife, Lydia Abela, tested positive for COVID-19. Incidentally, Dr Abela had taken her first dose of the vaccine yesterday.
The Prime Minister said that he would be carrying out his committments normally through the use of technology.

Both he and his daughter, Giorgia Mae, tested negative.

The prime minister said in a Facebook post that his wife had taken a test in view of engagements in the coming days and the result was positive.

PN to convene Exco meeting after Facebook spat

The Nationalist Party will be convening an Executive Committee meeting this evening, its leader Bernard Grech said. In a statement, the PN added that the meeting has been called after it had been noted that posts by MPs on social media could be in contravention of party regulations.

The Party said the meeting has been called so that, according to the Statute, the Executive Committee will take all decisions it considers necessary in these circumstances.

Covid-19 Update

30 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Wednesday while no new deaths were recorded.
A total of 1,785 swab tests were carried out yesterday. 38 persons recovered, with the active case tally reaching 280.

Long queues for vaccinations
Hundreds spent hours queuing at the University of Malta, as those over 30 became eligible to receive their Covid-19 vaccination. According to the National Statistics Office, there are more people aged between 30 and 40 than there are in any other decade, with 88,901 people in this cohort. The vaccine is being offered in 12 cubicles at the University of Malta, a health ministry spokesperson said.

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