The Malta Independent 22 June 2021, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Illegal gatherings - Where is the enforcement?

Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 10:32 Last update: about 14 days ago

Every week we are given a list of Covid-related fines dished out by the authorities over the previous seven days. Well over a thousand fines have been issued each week for the past couple of months. Most of the infringements were a failure to wear a facemask in public or breaches of the public gathering limit.

The police force has made huge efforts over the past year and a half and has mobilised more resources than usual to be able to patrol Malta’s many public spaces and ensure that everyone is obeying the law.

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However, there seem to be some huge gaps in enforcement and, astonishingly, this is happening in some of the most populated and popular spots.

For several weeks now, Sliema residents have reported large gatherings of people on the seaside, most notably near Independence Garden and the Exiles area.

This is not just rumour. Plenty of photos and videos have been uploaded on social media.

So have photos of the mountains of trash left behind by these revellers.

The residents say that these impromptu parties often last until the morning, and that the loud music blaring from these sites is keeping them up all night. Many have asked where the police and the other law enforcement authorities are, and this is a question we would also like an answer to.

If these events were taking place in some remote parts of the island, in some far away fields or in some cave, we could understand why it is difficult for the police to pinpoint the location and take action. But these parties are taking place right in the heart of Sliema and St Julian’s – place frequented by many people during the day, places where police patrolling is expected to be more frequent.

If this had been a one-off event, one could say that the police did not manage to arrive on time, but this has been taking place for days on end now, and nothing has been done about it, despite all the proof and despite the public outrcry.

Similar events are taking place in other areas too. Last week, MaltaToday reported that the police broke up a large gathering of car enthusiasts in Marsa, near the new flyovers. Just a couple of days later, an equally large gathering took place in the exact same spot. Incredibly, videos uploaded on Facebook and Instagram showed that even some food trucks had set up in the area to feed the hungry petrolheads.

This is no longer about some underground party held at White Rocks, where the crowds and the loud music can be kept relatively hidden. No, this is happening in plain sight, and no one seems to be doing anything about it.

It seems that the zealousness to keep the public in check and ensure that everyone is following health guidelines has somewhat died down.

If this pandemic were almost over, maybe one could understand the relaxed attitude being adopted by the authorities, but the same authorities have been telling us that Covid will still linger around for a while. We have been told that we need to be careful, and that measures will be relaxed in a gradual fashion because the danger has not been averted yet.

If this is the case, then why are the authorities not cracking down on illegalities that are taking place right in front of their noses?

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