Updated | Coronavirus: Italian truckers with imported merchandise not observing quarantine

Public Health Superintendent says that quarantine rules apply to everyone, including Italian truckers who bring merchandise to Malta but port workers tell MaltaToday Italian drivers are skimping on quarantine

Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday

Updated on 27 March at 10:45am with Grimaldi Lines statement

Italian truckers carrying imported merchandise are not observing the mandatory quarantine rules according to multiple reports received by MaltaToday.

Carriers of merchandise that come over to Malta through the Sicily-Malta catamaran and the Grimaldi Lines are not confining themselves to their vehicles and are remaining in contact with individuals in Malta. However, in a statement (see below) Grimaldi Lines said it suspended the carriage of passengers and drivers on its vessels since 16 March.

Superintendent of Public Health, Charmaine Gauci, told MaltaToday that the quarantine rule also applies to Italian distributors who bring produce and other material to the country.

The mandatory 14-day quarantine rule is imposed on anyone travelling to Malta with breaches fined with €10,000 per day. This has increased from the initial €1,000 and the following €3,000 after police spot checks found a number of breaches.

“Anyone who comes to Malta, irrespective of where they’re coming from and for what reason, need to quarantine themselves for 14 days. Failure to do so will result in hefty fines.

“Drivers who come here with merchandise—and it’s important that it keeps coming—are also subject to the quarantine. We are conducting various checks. Drivers are only allowed to leave quarantine if they’re returning home,” Gauci said.

Italy has a total of 69,176 known cases of Covid-19, with the highest number of active cases in the world. 6,820 people have died since the infection has spread in Italy.

Malta has reported five new cases on Thursday at a total of 134 cases, two of whom have recovered.

Grimaldi says it only carries unaccompanied trucks

Grimaldi Group has since 16 March suspended the carrying of passengers and drivers on all vessels calling from and to Malta, the company's agents in Malta said.

The suspension came into force before government issued the restrictive quarantine directives.

Sullivan Maritime Ltd, agents in Malta for Grimaldi, said the shipping company has had to ferry a maximum of two drivers into Malta since the 16 March decision and these were "as requested and in close cooperation with the authorities". These two cases involved the transportation of pharmaceuticals.

"The agency remains at the disposal of the authorities to consider only specific cases as particularly requested and in support of the vital supply link for Malta with the European main land," Sullivan said.

Trucks on board the Grimaldi ships are loaded at the respective ports and left unaccompanied, to be picked up by drivers at the other end.