The Malta Independent 22 January 2021, Friday

Health Minister announces new limitations for mass events; feast marches banned

Albert Galea & Karl Azzopardi Thursday, 30 July 2020, 18:53 Last update: about 7 months ago

A number of new limitations and measures pertaining to mass events, including the banning of village feast marches, were announced by Health Minister Chris Fearne on Thursday evening.

The announcement came after mounting pressure on the government to re-introduce restrictive measures related to mass gatherings and events.

The announcement came after mounting pressure on the government to re-introduce restrictive measures related to mass gatherings and events. Three medical constituted bodies - the MAMMUMN, and Chamber of Pharmacists - have threatened industrial action as from Monday if the government does not ban mass events.

The pressure came after Malta saw a spike of Covid-19 cases in recent days, which continued into Thursday.  The spike is largely down to two mass events: 20 cases are related to a weekend-long hotel party and another 10 are related to a village feast last week.


The standards, which have social distancing and contact tracing in mind, announced apply across the board, for all events, Fearne said in a press conference.

As of Friday morning, the attendance to every event will be limited according to the size of the venue it is being held at. A venue’s maximum capacity is equivalent to one person for every four square-metres.

A group of 10 people at an event can remain together, but need to be separated from another group of people by two metres, in line with social distancing regulations.

Attendees must leave their contact number with the event organisers – on whose shoulders the responsibility for the following of these rules falls – which authorities will have access to so that contact tracing can be done easily if a positive case is found.

Events which attract over 100 people will need to have a risk assessment which goes through health authorities drawn up in order to identify whether the activity can be done. If authorities feel that the activity cannot be done with social distancing measures being observed, then it will not be allowed to take place.

Furthermore, as from Friday, no permits will be issued for feast marches.

Feast marches will be banned as from tomorrow.  

Fearne said that the measures will be enforceable by the Public Health Act and organisers will be held accountable for any mishaps. Only events that consist of people who live under the same roof are excluded from these measures.

He said that the standards being announced are such in order to sustain the success with which Malta had handled the Covid-19 pandemic.

Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said that the authorities had been continually monitoring the situation closely in order to ensure that the measures in place were proportionate to the situation at hand.

She explained that all the clusters that were found were controlled and everyone who came in contact with them have been contacted to facilitate contact tracing.

Speaking about the recent surge in migrant cases she said that this was a show of proof that the authorities have learnt how to control infectious diseases seeing that they were immediately quarantined since they were coming from overseas.

She said there were only 4 cases coming from safe corridors while another 5 came from countries outside of this list. However, she explained that the latter followed the same protocols of quarantine as the migrants.

“Overall the numbers can look scary but when you look at each case individually we can see that they are controlled which is why these protocols are in place.”

Taking questions from journalists, Fearne said that the number of positive cases from the two rescued migrant vessels will be added to tomorrow’s total statistics.

He skirted round questions as to why the government had not published any of their risk assessments, saying that the authorities had been fully transparent throughout the pandemic.

Pool party no more: the Hotel Takeover party (pictured above) is the source of a 20-case cluster of Covid-19. The capacity for mass events will be limited from tomorrow.

The Health Minister also described allegations that Prime Minister Robert Abela was undermining authorities’ calls for caution in reopening of the country’s establishments and events as media speculation.

Asked how the authorities will ensure that these standards are abided by when the Prime Minister himself had previously announced that fines are negotiable, Fearne said that these standards apply for everyone and anyone who does not follow them will have their event cancelled – “thus not all events that were going to take place will be taking place.”

He added that, with regards to the industrial action that health personnel threatened to take if mass events are not cancelled, he is in constant communication with these individuals in order to figure out a way forward.

Gauci was asked if her daily press briefings will return, however she said that authorities are assessing the information and sharing all the necessary findings already.

She stressed the importance of looking at official outlets of information as fake news is one of the biggest problems being faced globally.

Asked if more swab centres will be set up considering the increase in testing requests, Fearne said that the existing centres are very accessible and that the authorities are increasing human resources in both the laboratory and the centres to increase efficiency.

Re-live the press conference below. 

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