[WATCH] Vaccine passports will be used to kickstart certain activities, says Chris Fearne

Xtra on TVM | The vaccine certificate is set to be issued next week, the Health Minister said

Health Minister Chris Fearne on TVM's Xtra
Health Minister Chris Fearne on TVM's Xtra

Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that Cabinet has agreed to allow certain activities to restart, with the vaccine certificate being used to test-run the reopening.

Speaking during the TVM programme Xtra, Fearne said that the vaccine certificate will be published and issued by government next week, so that it can be used to resume some limited activities.

However, he gave no details on the types of activities that will resume, and offered no timeline or dates as to when this will happen.

On the entertainment industry, the Minister said that the vaccination rate and current COVID-19 statistics show that Malta is slowly moving towards normality and towards the reopening of the sector.

"We have to get there, but we haven't arrived yet," he insisted. "As long as there is still a pandemic around the world, and in turn there is still the chance of new variants emerging, we need to remain cautious. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't lower restrictions."

He mentioned that discussions are taking place with those involved in the arts and entertainment sector so that they too can reopen in a reasonable manner.

"If we open too fast and cases increase again, they will be the first to close," he warned.

Fearne went on to confirm that there will increased controls at all borders, with tourists coming to Malta asked to present a vaccine certificate or negative test before boarding the plane.

He added that government will be speaking with large companies down the line, so that if they can gather 200 workers that want to receive the vaccine, nurses will physically go to the workplace and administer the vaccine to those employees.

READ ALSOCOVID-19: Malta will start vaccinating children aged 12 to 15 in July

MEIA President Howard Keith Debono
MEIA President Howard Keith Debono

Howard Keith Debono, President of the Maltese Entertainment Industry and Arts Association, also took part in the programme, saying that the discussion on mass events has been prolonged unnecessarily.

He said that a mass event attended by less than 1,000 people can realistically be organised.

"We're not talking about finances alone," Debono insisted. "Artists are losing their identity. After a week of work and no emotional release, your personality will change."

He added that the sector is capable of acting responsibly, and noted how the first activities after COVID-19 were eventually cancelled by the organisers themselves, and not on government orders.

Joven Grech, better known as Tenishia, was also present for the discussion, and made similar arguments to those put forward by Debono. He said that what the industry wants is a gradual reopening plan.

On the medical side, Martin Balzan from the Medical Association of Malta insisted that doctors are of the opinion that mass events should be the last to reopen, but government should continue. helping artists and industry operators.

"Mass activities before end of June is definitely not possible," Balzan maintained.

And on the government side, Arts Minister José Herrera said that the entertainment sector is discussed in every Cabinet meeting. He said that the vaccine is the key for having this sector reopen, but firmly insisted that government is being cautious because it has learnt from the pandemic, having made major advancements in the virus' control.