The Malta Independent 13 July 2020, Monday

Ports still open for cargo from Italy, catamaran still accepting drivers

Rebekah Cilia Sunday, 29 March 2020, 09:30 Last update: about 5 months ago

Maltese ports are still open for cargo, including ships leaving from Italy, as most of Malta’s supplies, including medical supplies, foodstuffs, and fuel arrive from abroad, a spokesperson for Transport Malta told The Malta Independent on Sunday.

The two cargo boats, Tirrenia and Grimaldi, which operate regularly from Italy, are still in operation but no longer carry drivers. The catamaran is also still operating and drivers are allowed onboard.

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The two cargo ships require that local drivers, in Malta and Italy, take the cargo to the ships, which is then transported and collected in the receiving country, to be delivered accordingly.

 Catamaran drivers can deliver goods but quarantine rules apply

The drivers that do arrive in Malta by catamaran are first screened through temperature monitoring and thermal scanning, in line with the procedures adopted by the Health Authorities. They then have to deliver the goods directly or deliver the container to a particular location.

The quarantine rules then apply for these drivers, as they do for anyone arriving in Malta from abroad. The government had announced that persons entering Malta from any other country from 1pm on 13 March onwards must spend 14 days in mandatory quarantine, starting from the last day that they were in any of these countries.

This quarantine rule is enforceable by law and failures to observe this obligation will result in fines of €3,000 for every breach.

Persons living in the same households as these persons must also spend 14 days in mandatory quarantine. This is also enforceable by law and subject to the same fines.

Considering that many of our goods are imported from abroad, ensuring the national supply of goods to our islands is essential. Prime Minister, Robert Abela had said that shipping of merchandise, food and medicine between the Malta and Italy will continue to ensure that the chain of supply to Malta continues as usual when the government ordered to suspend all passenger flights to Italy and the catamaran to Sicily.

The logistics sector is working hard to ensure the continuous supply of essential goods to Malta during the spread of the Coronavirus, but the ever-shifting situation has created its own problems that require tackling in the sector, CEO of Express Trailers Franco Azzopardi had told this newsroom.

Speaking about local drivers, Azzopardi said, “Given the amount of news on the Coronavirus, some become concerned and begin to hear myths such as the virus spreading quickly through cargo, and we have to explain that this is highly unlikely especially given they wear gloves. They should, however, make sure to work according to the protocol, such as staying a couple of metres away from other people.”

Cargo is also being flown in, with Air Malta saying it is doing its utmost to keep supplying the nation with essential goods – from fresh products to crucial medical supplies. “As a National Airline we keep our commitment and take pride to serve the Maltese Islands and its people,” Air Malta said.

Supporting local businesses

A post on Facebook went viral in Malta, encouraging people to support local businesses once the danger of the Coronavirus is over. Let’s spend our holidays in Malta, eat in local restaurants, buy local products, buy local meats and veggies and support local businesses. 


‘Supply shock in terms of logistics of movement of food’

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nation explains that the food supply chain is a complex web of interactions and of actors: producers, inputs, transportation, processing plants, shipping, etc.

As the virus spreads, cases mount and lockdowns increase, there are seemingly countless ways the food system will be tested and strained in the coming weeks and months. As of the 24 March, no supply shock in sense of availability but there is starting to be a supply shock in terms of logistics of movement of food.

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