Paceville venues shut down over breach of rules on mass events

Only one of the venues provided the certification requested and was allowed to reopen. The other three remained closed until they provide the requested documentation

Four venues catering to mass events two of them in Paceville were shut down on Friday, as authorities enforced new regulations introduced this week in a bid to curtail a new spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, MaltaToday has learned.  

The venues were forced to shut down after health authorities traced a tourist who has tested positive to coronavirus to the four establishments. The inspectors ordered the venues to carry out a full sanitation exercise and to provide detailed certification from the company carrying out the sanitation.  

Only one of the venues provided the certification requested and was allowed to reopen. The other three remained closed until they provide the requested documentation.  

Party organisers and promoters, wedding planners and venues, party venues even large bars and restaurants have been left with more questions than answers after new measures were introduced this week.  

The measures left many organisers and venues unclear as to what precautions they actually need to take, with many feeling that the new regulations are simply government’s way of putting an end to mass events without actually admitting to doing so.  

On Thursday evening, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne appeared alongside Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci and announced a number of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 at mass events.  

As of Friday, he said, village festa marches would be banned. And the number of people in every venue should be limited to one person for every 4sq.m to ensure social distancing and within the venues themselves, groups of more than 10 will not be allowed.  

Fearne said that people who attend these indoor events will have to leave a contact number for ease of tracing and that organisers would be responsible to ensure these standards are adhered to and could risk legal action if they fail to do so.  

Venues that can accommodate more than 100 people will have to carry out a risk assessment prior to going ahead with the event. Fearne insisted that events in which organisers cannot guarantee adherence to the standards will not be allowed to go ahead. He added that inspectors will be ensuring that the standards are adhered to.  

But these measures have left many organisers and venue owners unclear as to how to go about organising mass events, especially those in the open which would be impossible to control the in flux of people or enforce social distancing measures.  

Philip Fenech, deputy president of the Malta Chamber of SMEs, told MaltaToday that such was the extent of the confusion sown by the new measures, that he was organising an information meeting for all interested parties to try and answer the many questions that the new measures have raised.  

The meeting, which is to be held Monday at 3pm at Westin Dragonara Resort, will be address by the CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority, Johann Buttigieg, the MTA’s head of enforcement, David Mifsud, and Fenech himself.  

Fenech said that a vast majority of the industry players recognised the need for protocols and regulation. “Most had been following those protocols ever since the ban on mass events was lifted,” he said. “Unfortunately, there were a couple of owners and promoters who, possibly misguided by the mixed messages being delivered at all levels, felt they no longer needed to practice caution at certain mass events.”  

Fenech said proper regulations required the cooperation of both the venue or organiser as well as the general public attending such events.

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