Strategic relaxation of COVID-19 measures to be announced next week - Chris Fearne

Chris Fearne acknowledges frustation with current measures but says situation remains under control

Health and Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne
Health and Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne

An exit roadmap strategy, paving the way for the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions will be announced next week, Health Minister Chris Fearne said.

On Saturday Fearne said this plan includes the dates when certain measures will be removed. According to Times of Malta, these are expected to come into effect next February. 

Fearne acknowledged frustration with current measures exists, but remarked this is an indication that Malta had limited the impact of the virus.

"I would rather see people grumbling that they want to go out rather than people calling for a lockdown because people are dying. We kept things under control in the hospital and ITU in the past months,” he said. “The number of COVID patients there has remained manageable.”

Following the exponential rise in cases in recent months, due to the Omicron variant, the situation has been improved, with less cases being registered daily.

"We know what we are doing and we have been showing it. And we know what we need to do with these measures. As soon as we are sure that people's health is not at risk, we will be removing them," Fearne said. 

He emphasised on the importance of vaccinations, highlighting the Omicron variant lead to the hospitalisation of more children.

PN welcomes announcement, says it is proven right

In a statement, the Nationalist Party welcomed the announcement and said this should have been done earlier. “This confirms the position taken by PN and most of civil society, that measures introduced by government five days ago are excessive.”

It remarked the measures were discriminatory and tough on employers, who it said were already facing great difficulties.

PN emphasised on the importance of the booster intake, and appealed for a balance of measures that make sense in the current context.

Hotels and restaurants looking forward to removal of restrictions, says MHRA

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) welcomed the announcement and asserted hotels and restaurants are looking forward to re-opening their doors without any restrictions.

 “Over the course of the past two years there have been numerous false starts and deep disappointment as we returned to various lockdowns, but there is a strong belief this time is different. We will continue to work closely with the highest authorities to focus on solutions, and to bring forth the voice of the tourism and hospitality sector in a constructive manner.” MHRA President Tony Zahra stated.

MHRA reiterated Covid could now be termed endemic and that it must be learnt to live with, with solutions in place for any possible future return. It said hotels and restaurants would still be facing various challenges and called for government support.

"Staff and customer safety will continue to be paramount for us, but we are now breathing a sigh of relief as Government is recognizing the need to relieve the hospitality sector from restrictions in the shortest time possible,” Zahra affirmed.