More coronavirus restrictive measures relating to mass events will be lifted as from Monday, health minister Chris Fearne announced on Friday morning during a press conference at the Central Procurement and Supplies Unit in San Ġwann.
After explaining in detail how the new budgetary measures will affect the health care services as of next year, the deputy prime minister delivered an update on the coronavirus pandemic in Malta.
He explained that in Friday’s coronavirus bulletin, it will be seen that the the situation is still under control as eleven patients are hospitalised at Mater Dei Hospital with the virus, of whom one is in intensive care.
According to Fearne, there are no coronavirus clusters in schools, after these reopened their doors for students this scholastic year. Although, he did later confirm that there were some isolated cases in schools while fielding questions from reporters present.
The minister announced that the health authorities will no longer take the presence of the MU variant in a country as one of the criteria used in the classification of countries for travel purposes. He explained that the MU coronavirus variant is no longer being deemed as a variant of concern, but remains a variant of interest. A new country list is expected for next week which may see some changes, as Eastern European countries are registering a higher infection rate, Fearne said.
Malta classifies countries as green, amber, red and dark red. Passengers arriving from the different zones have different obligations to adhere to upon arrival.
Among the other Covid-related announcements, Minister Fearne also revealed that Malta will recognize Covid vaccine passports issued in Armenia, Moldova, South Korea and Iraq.
New protocols for events limited to fully vaccinated individuals
Restrictions will be reduced for events which are open to fully vaccinated individuals, Fearne explained on Friday. These restrictions will also apply in case of wedding functions limited only to vaccinated individuals.
As from Monday, children under the age of 12, who cannot get the jab yet, will no longer require a recent antigen rapid test or a PCR when attending events with a fully vaccinated guardian or parent. The health authorities will also ease the measure relating to the number of people seated at table on the same day, which will go up to eight individuals per table.
Furthermore, in case of fully vaccinated individuals, outdoor tables can be set at 1m distance from each other instead of 2 meters, while in case of indoor tables these can be placed at 1.5 meters away from each other instead of two.
Fearne explained that in the case of seated events, specifying that these restrictions apply as well to cinemas or theatres, the 100-meter distance will be capped at 300 instead of 100.
The health authorities are also waiting for the results from the recent test mass event, Fearne said.
A pilot event which was organised in collaboration between Festivals Malta, the Malta Tourism Authority as well as the Malta Entertainments Industry and Arts Association, was held on 8 October. The 300-person indoor event for vaccinated people saw them wearing no masks and no social distance rules were applied. This was the first time since Malta clamped down on the spread of the virus. They were not required to undergo a test upon entry.
The comedy show was held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta, and was limited to individuals over 18, and who had not been abroad within the 14 days preceeding the event.
The minister explains that once the results are in hand, which should be by the end of the week, the health authorities will be in a position to evaluate whether more restrictions can be lifted off.
As from Monday, public transport including the fast ferries, will be allowed to take up to 80% of their capacity.