Government to lift further restrictions as Tourism Minister tells operators ‘there will be a summer’

Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli tells operators government will announce deadlines for lifting of more restrictions on various sectors • Talks with 9 countries for opening of safe travel corridors

'There will be a summer,' Julia Farrugia Portelli has promised tourism operators as government considers easing restrictions that will kick-start domestic tourism
'There will be a summer,' Julia Farrugia Portelli has promised tourism operators as government considers easing restrictions that will kick-start domestic tourism

Government will be announcing the lifting of more restrictions within the next 72 hours, which will include outlets and activities that “encourage internal tourism”.

The information was divulged to tourism operators by Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli during a webinar on Friday morning.

She told operators that among the sectors being considered for re-opening were those that would “encourage the start of internal tourism”.

Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli during Friday's webinar on tourism
Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli during Friday's webinar on tourism

Farrugia Portelli did not elaborate but boldly told operators that “there will be a summer”.

The minister also told operators that the government is currently in bilateral talks with nine other countries for the re-opening of air travel.

Contacted by MaltaToday, she said that safe travel corridors were being explored with Luxembourg, Serbia, Norway, Slovakia, Austria, Czechia, Latvia, Lithuania and Israel.

The re-opening of travel corridors will depend on the epidemiological state in the country of departure.

“In line with health authority recommendations, more restrictions will be lifted and the Prime Minister will be announcing this within the next 72 hours. This time around, a deadline will be announced and clear re-opening protocols will be published to give establishments the chance to prepare,” Farrugia Portelli told MaltaToday.

She confirmed that some of the establishments that will re-open in the next batch, could target domestic tourism.

“The tourism industry has gone through shock. But we are looking at internal tourism as the first step to get the wheel turning again. There will be a summer,” she added.

A survey carried out by EY showed that top hotel executives believe the industry will need between two and five years to recover and reach last year’s levels.

Farrugia Portelli said that Malta never closed its beaches but clear guidelines will be issued to ensure people use them safely.

Various outlets were shut in March to curb the spread of COVID-19. Two weeks ago, non-essential retail outlets were allowed to re-open with strict measures on the number of clients allowed in the shop and other safety measures.

MaltaToday is informed that the health authorities have been holding a marathon of meetings with top government officials and stakeholders over the past 24 hours over re-opening plans in various sectors.

One of the sectors being considered is sports, however, this will be done according to a risk-based assessment that distinguishes between individual and team sports, and contact and non-contact sports.

READ ALSO: Health authorities in three-week assessment of decision to lift COVID-19 restrictions

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