Over 700 fined last week for COVID-19 breaches

This comes after an enforcement blitz over the weekend led to major confusion over the use of face masks, with many receiving fines for eating takeaway in outdoor areas

Over 700 fines were issued by health authorities over the past week in connection with breaches of COVID-19 regulations. 

In total, 706 fines were tied to breaches of the mandatory face mask regulations, while 56 were fined because they congregated in groups of six or more.

This comes after new measures were put in place amid a sharp spike in new coronavirus cases.

An enforcement blitz over the weekend led to major confusion over the use of face masks, as many reported receiving fines for eating takeaway without a mask. 

However, the legal notice introduced last October on mandatory use of face masks had already outlined several exemptions to the mask rule, and eating takeaway outdoors was not a legal exemption. 

The legal notice only makes exemptions for children up to three years of age, and persons with "severe cognitive, physical, mental or respiratory impairments who have difficulties tolerating a mask as certified by a licensed medical practitioner" - with those in the latter category required to carry relevant medical documentation at all times.

With respect to dining, the temporary removal of face masks is only allowed when seated at establishments where food and drink is served. Otherwise, food must only be consumed at a private home or in a private vehicle.

In turn, one cannot remove their face mask when seated in a picnic area, or any outdoor area for that matter.

In an earlier version of this article, MaltaToday said that over 500 people were fined due to COVID-19 breaches. This figure included fines issued by the Malta Police Force only, while new figures reflect fines from all relevant authorities, including LESA.