Ten new Covid cases – News Briefing – Wednesday 2 June 2021

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Updated 1245

Covid-19 Update: 10 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Wednesday, while four persons recovered. Active cases now stand at 76. 2,275 swabs were carried out yesterday. Till yesterday, 528,592 doses were administered of which 319,574 were a first dose. 218,321 people are fully vaccinated.

Updated 1135

Abela should rebut HSBC heist links – Court: Minister Carmelo Abela must present evidence to rebut allegations made by PN MP Jason Azzopardi linking him to the 2010 HSBC failed heist, Magistrate Rachel Montebello declared today. While Abela’s defence team tried to shift the burden on Azzopardi, the court turned down the applicant’s request, stating that it was the minister who had filed the libel suit and, therefore, he was to bring forward evidence to prove that the allegation was unfounded.

Earlier this year, Jason Azzopardi claimed that Abela allegedly aided the mastermind behind the attempted heist for a €300,000 payment from the robbery.

Q1 Tourism data: Inbound tourists for the first four months of 2021 amounted to 43,433, a decrease of 88.3 per cent over the same period in 2020, the NSO said today. Total nights spent by inbound tourists decreased by 71.7 per cent, totaling 633,428 nights. Total tourism expenditure was estimated at €39.3 million, a decrease of 82.5 per cent when compared to the same period in the previous year. Total expenditure per capita stood at €904, increasing from €607 in
the same period in 2020, mainly as a result of longer length of stays.

Updated 0900 – Newspaper Review

The Times reports that George and Alfred Degiorgio wrote to the EU Commissioner for Justice protesting a Cabinet decision against their pardon request. The brothers accuse the government of a conflict of interest after naming former and sitting ministers.

Malta Today says that food delivery companies were invited to a meeting with minister Carmelo Abela last week who warned the government would not accept a 50 per cent pay cut for couriers hired by sub-contractors.

The Independent speaks with the president of the football association Bjorn Vassallo who said that a ban on sports in the last months is impacting the form of the national team. He said that foot should be treated as a profession, not a hobby.

L-Orizzont reveals that the police and that Foundation for Social Welfare Services are collaborating to bring back two children who have been taken out of Malta by their father without the consent of their mother.

In-Nazzjon reports that the Venice Commission challenged attempts by the government to amend definitions in the Constitution relating to the administration to penalties by a simple majority in parliament. The Commission warned that changes require a two-thirds approval.

L-Orizzont quotes Minister for Gozo Clint Camilleri who said that the government is exploring alternative connectivity solutions between the two islands, including the possibility of an airlink.  

The Independent says that British media is forecasting that Malta will be added to the UK’s green travel list this Thursday. Public Health Superintendent Charmain Gauci said that authorities are monitoring the situation with the Indian Covid-19 variant in the UK.

The Times covers the inauguration of the fast ferry service between Gozo and Malta on Tuesday. Prime Minister Robert Abela said that the service will decrease travelling time for Gozitans by two hours.

Malta Today reports that the government will add €100 to the pension of elderly people in care homes instead of sending them the Covid-19 vouchers. The government said that many residents did not redeem the vouchers in the first round.

L-Orizzont reports that more than 80,000 people have downloaded the Covid-19 vouchers announced by the government. Economy Minister Silvio Schembri urged people to get the vouchers in digital form.

In-Nazzjon reports on a visit by PN Leader Bernard Grech to the open market in Birgu on Tuesday. He said that the party initiative to register instances of overcharging for utility bills was a success and the exercise will be extended to Gozo this week. 

Morning Briefing

Debt up to 54.3%: At the end of 2020, General Government debt amounted to €6,960.0 million, or 54.3 per cent of GDP, an increase of €1,257.2 million over 2019, the NSO said. In 2020, the Financial Corporations sector held the biggest share of debt with 60.5 per cent, followed by Households and Non-Profit Institutions Serving Households (NPISH) with 19.1 per cent. The share of the Rest of the World was 18.2 per cent, an increase of 6.1 percentage points over the debt held in 2017. The Non-Financial Corporations sector held 2.2 per cent of the debt.

Fast ferry service inaugurated: A new fast ferry service between Malta and Gozo began its operations yesterday, following the inauguration of new €5 million terminal buildings on both ends of the route. The first trips were made in the afternoon and only passengers can make the crossing. Prime Minister Robert Abela, who inaugurated the services at a ceremony, said this was an example of the government provided opportunities for everyone, and created activities that generated jobs and contributed to the economy.

Covid-19 Update: Malta recorded 8 Covid-19 cases and 4 recoveries on Tuesday. 2,026 swab tests were carried out as Malta reached 70 active cases. No new deaths were recorded.