| 20 May 2024, Monday |

Malta’s restaurants reopen, COVID inoculation reaches 60% of adults

Malta reopened restaurants for lunch on Monday after the island’s health minister announced that the coronavirus inoculation drive had reached 60% of the adult population and infections were down.

Restaurants were shuttered 2 months ago when COVID-19 case numbers hit a record 510 on March 10 and the Mediterranean island of nearly 450,000 people imposed stricter restrictions with an eye to reopening for tourism on June 1.

Malta has led one of the most aggressive vaccination campaigns in the European Union. The island registered 11 new coronavirus infections on Monday.

Health Minister Chris Fearne tweeted on Sunday that 60% of the adult population had received at least a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, more than double the EU average, with inoculation efforts now focused on people in their 30s.

Retail outlets and non-essential services were allowed to reopen on April 26 and Malta also announced a scheme to pay up to 200 euros to tourists in Malta during the summer. But efforts appeared to have been dealt a blow on Friday when Britain kept the island off its Green List of safe tourism destinations.

Tourism is a major contributor to Malta’s GDP and British tourists account for a quarter of arrivals. The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association stated that the omission could deal a blow to the beginning of the summer season.

“The Maltese government will continue working hard to assure that Malta is included in the next review” of the British tourism list, due by the end of May,” Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo told media outlets.

Malta is also due to remove compulsory wearing of protective face masks at beaches and around pools on June 1.

  • Reuters