The Malta Independent 3 March 2024, Sunday
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Updated: Face masks to become mandatory in public again as from Saturday

Semira Abbas Shalan Thursday, 9 December 2021, 13:16 Last update: about 3 years ago

The wearing of face masks will once again become mandatory in all public places as from this Saturday, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced.

People walking in the street - both vaccinated and unvaccinated -  in their own will also be required to wear a mask, as from Saturday.

Fearne announced the new restrictions on Thursday during a press conference, as the number of Covid-19 cases being reported remained high and hospitalisations increaesd in recent days.

Malta first relaxed measures relating to the wearing of face-masks in all public places on 1 July, when those who were fully vaccinated could do away with the mask outdoors as long as they were alone or with someone else who was fully vaccinated.

The wearing of face-masks has remained mandatory inside public buildings - such as schools - and retail outlets amongst others; even if Parliamentarians, particularly members of the government, have continuously elected to not wear face masks while in Parliament and even if it was not enforced too much, as seen in a number of major events - such as the SiGMA Summit - in recent weeks.

Being caught not wearing a face mask in the first period of restrictions was punishable by a €100 fine, which would be halved to €50 if the culprit chooses not to contest it.  It is unclear whether the same fining structure will be implemented again with these new restrictions.

Asked why people outdoors on their own need to wear masks, the minister said the probability was that they would meet other people, and when that occurred, it was wise to be protected. Social contact is also bound to increase over the festive period.

Fearne did not reply when asked what fines, if any, pedestrians would face if not wearing a mask 

Fearne said however that there will be no further changes to the current Covid-19 restrictions, even though they are anticipating that Malta will - sooner or later - have its own cases of the Omicron variant.

He said though that the booster shots being used in Malta - Pfizer and Moderna - have been shown to be very effective in containing the new variant.

The Health Minister also announced that vaccination against Covid-19 for children who are 12 years old or younger will kick off on Tuesday, and that the period of time between the second and third dose of the vaccine has been reduced from six months to four months.

Children younger than 12 will be given one third of the dose adults are being given.

The decision to reduce the time between the second and third dose came after Malta was seeing more and more breakthrough cases owing to immunity against the virus having decreased.

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