[WATCH] Restaurants to close at 11pm, in new COVID restrictions

New measures to combat COVID-19 • Restaurants to close between 11pm and 6am • Temperature must be taken when boarding Gozo ferry • Enforcement to be ramped up in Gozo over carnival 

Restaurants must close at 11pm, and not open before 6am, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced. 

Abela unveiled a number of mitigation measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the wake of the carnival holidays next month.

Bars and clubs will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

From 11 to 17 February, all those on the Gozo ferry must have their temperature taken. While onboard the boat, people will be required to remain in their cars. 

The ferry will continue to operate at half capacity. Abela, however, warned that while Gozo was not closed, "we cannot have a situation as in the past."

Police will also be making additional patrols in Gozo, including Nadur, Xlendi, Marsalforn and Rabat.

Malta Tourism Authority will also be making more regular inspections, to make sure people are following the protocols. 

Abela also said that financial aid to bars and clubs will increase more than two-fold. He said that the aid being given will double from €1 million to €2.2 million. Details on this will be given by Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo by the end of this week, he said. 

“In the coming four weeks, we have to continue with our lives, but also do what is necessary,” Abela said. "February has to be different this year," he said. 

Abela also added that yesterday, 14,000 Pfizer vaccines arrived on the island and the government has green-lit the purchase of another 80,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Health Minister Chris Fearne said that enforcement led to more than 8,000 fines.

Fearne said one of the reasons for the new restrictions was because a number of restaurants were still operating like bars. Fearne said the message was clear, “you go to restaurants to eat, not to drink,” he said. 

Abela dismissed claims that there was a lack of enforcement on restaurants. He said that the rules that were in place previously made it possible for a person to “finish a meal and then stay on to have a drink.” He said that Malta was still much better off than other countries.

Fearne said that the health authorities also noticed that what could not happen outdoors was now taking place inside. This was referring to people renting accommodation in Gozo.  He said that licenses are there to be adhered to. Farmhouses should not have more people than listed. 

Superintendent of Public Health, Charmaine Gauci added that the measures were based on lessons learned after a spike caused by gatherings during the Christmas period. 

READ MORE: New restrictive measures planned for February but no lockdown or curfew

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