Maltese authorities reimposed restrictions on Friday, August 7, following a recent spike in confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities have banned mass gatherings and also made it compulsory for individuals to wear masks in all public spaces. Individuals found to be violating the mandatory face mask measure will be fined 50 euros, and organisers of large events will be fined 3000 euros. The measures come after 49 new infections were reported on Friday, which is reportedly the second highest daily number since the first case was detected in March.
Authorities have ordered restrictions on public gatherings with no more than 100 people permitted to gather indoors and no more than 300 outdoors. According to media sources, smaller spaces will be limited to one person per four square metres to ensure social distancing measures are observed. Limits will be made to individuals visiting people in nursing homes, with visitors reportedly required to remain behind Perspex screens.
Malta has eased COVID-19 restrictions with museums, tourist sites, restaurants, bars, hairdressers, and sports facilities reopening, though social distancing measures and capacity limits will be enforced. Public transport has resumed and restrictions on travel between Malta and Gozo have been eased.
Borders reopened from July 1 with international flights resuming operations. From July 1, authorities permitted arrivals from 18 Schengen area countries and Israel to enter the country without undergoing a 14-day mandatory quarantine. A full list of countries can be found here. On July 15, authorities announced that a further six countries were permitted to enter the country; the list of which can be found here.
As of August 7, there have been 995 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Malta and nine associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.