[WATCH] Tourism Minister invites Boris Johnson to jogging routine in obesity fight

Julia Farrugia Portelli plays down controversy sparked by Boris Johnson’s comment that the Maltese are the fattest nation in Europe when asked about it during a BBC Radio 5 interview

Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli
Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli

Malta’s Tourism Minister has invited Boris Johnson to a jogging routine in the next meeting between both countries as she played down the obesity controversy.

Julia Farrugia Portelli was asked about the British Prime Minister’s recent remark that the UK was only second to Malta in terms of obesity, during a BBC Radio 5 interview.

Johnson’s remark unleashed an unsavoury backlash on social media as many Maltese took offence, even though Malta ranks high on the obesity index.

Farrugia Portelli made light of the remark, insisting her wish was to see Malta and the UK off the obesity list.

“This means that in the first meeting we have with Boris, we need to also include a jogging routine on one of the beautiful beaches we have [in Malta] and I look forward to that,” she told her interviewer with a chuckle as she pitched Malta's beaches to a UK audience.

Asked whether Malta will be on the UK’s green list of safe countries to travel to when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted tomorrow, Farrugia Portelli said Malta was lobbying hard to be on that list.

“There is no reason why Malta should not be on the UK safe country list,” she said, adding Malta’s handling of the pandemic was commended by the World Health Organisation.

She said data from the UK showed that there was significant improvement in Britain on the number of new infections, which is why Malta had no problem opening a travel corridor with the UK.

Being on the UK’s green list means that passengers arriving in Britain from the respective country will not be obliged to remain in quarantine for two weeks.

The UK is an important tourist market for Malta, apart from being a popular destination for Maltese travellers.

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