[WATCH] Return to normality starts on 22 May - Robert Abela

More measures lifted: Restaurants and hairdressers to reopen, public gatherings increased to six, funeral masses to be held and outdoor pools to open with half capacity

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Prime Minister Robert Abela has announced the lifting of more restrictions from Friday 22 May.

In a press conference on Monday evening, Abela insisted that the country cannot allow a national emergency to become normality, insisting government’s decisions are based on scientific proof.

“We are not making any compromises with our nation’s health,” he said.

“We must be rational, and the objective facts back that up.”

The facts that motivated today’s decision according to the PM are a low rate of active cases in Malta and the country’s increase in its bed and resource capacity to deal with the pandemic.  

“The absolute majority of cases had light symptoms, or no symptoms at all and vast majority recovered at home,” he said.

What will change from Friday, 22 May:

All measures will be accompanied by protocols enforcing social distancing and hygiene.

Hospital/primary healthcare

The following services will start being offered again at Mater Dei Hospital and other primary healthcare institutions:

  • Diabetic clinic
  • Cardiology clinic
  • Well-baby clinic
  • Medical centres (bereġ)
  • Increased outpatient clinics
  • Increase in MRIs, CT scans, X-Rays
  • Orthopaedic, eye, gynaecological surgeries
  • IVF services
  • Partner will be able to attend full birthing process
  • Colon cancer screening

Public gatherings/outdoor pools

  • Groups of up to 6 can meet in public
  • At the beach advice is for people to keep 2m apart
  • Outdoor pools will be able to open with half their registered capacity

Hotels

  • People can use hotels

Culture

  • Open-air cinemas will be able to open with people keeping a 2m distance

Sports

  • Individual, non-contact sports can restart such as diving and tennis
  • Outdoor training of any sports can take place in groups of six

Religion

  • Funeral masses can be held again with limited number of people and social distancing measures

Shops/services

  • Restaurants, snackbars, cafeterias will reopen with maximum of 6 people per table and distances between tables
  • Hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, nail technicians will reopen but will have to use a system of appointments to avoid people queueing inside the premises, and distance between clients being serviced has to be 2m
  • Open-air markets will reopen with social distancing measures being enforced

The PM also insisted education will be key to keeping numbers under control.

After stating that enforcement will look to educate people rather than immediately “slap fines”, Abela was asked by MaltaToday whether such a statement will lead to a section of society into thinking that they can do whatever they like.

“When you educate people, it will lead to a better long-term outcome. It would be contradictorily to have measures which allow us to go out, then we start slapping fines left, right and center,” he said.

On statements made by doctors and environmental health officers, that the lifting of restrictions could lead to higher coronavirus numbers in the future, the deputy PM said that while they are right, government must look to strike a balance between the nation’s physical health and the long-term effects of the economy.

“If these measures lead to an increase in numbers, we will revise them. On the other hand, we don’t want to let some sectors of the to remain closed when scientific data suggest otherwise,” he said

Abela concluded by stating that today’s announcement is in line with all decisions taken so far.

“We cannot allow fear to influence our decisions,” he said.

READ ALSO: Shops no longer obliged to stop vulnerable people from entering – Chris Fearne

READ ALSO: Individual and non-contact sport to return on Friday

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