The events and entertainment industry are up in arms about continued indications that an outright ban on mass events will continue to be upheld throughout summer, despite Malta likely reaching herd immunity by end June (according to official Government statements) and having one of the fastest vaccination programmes in Europe.
On Friday, the Times of Malta cited sources who say the health authorities decided to ban village feasts this summer, along with mass events, over fears that such activities would not be viable in the present situation with regards COVID-19.
Last year, events and village feast celebrations took place in July during a brief period where restrictions were relaxed, however, clusters emerging from a now-infamous pool party, a Santa Venera village feast and the reopening of Malta’s borders saw the beginning of the so-called second wave.
This year, the Times says that authorities are taking a more cautious approach towards such gatherings while the country eyes 1st June for its reopening to international tourism.
Players in the events and entertainment industry have been angered by this latest development. One industry source, who preferred not to be named, questioned what benefits in terms of day-to-day living does a high vaccination rate and the attainment of herd immunity bring. The source added that “people are going to feel duped” should case numbers remain low despite Malta opening up to international tourism.
Another industry source, whose events business caters for parties targeted at foreign students, questioned how Malta expects to attract tourism when the authorities refuse to even trial events, as has taken place in the UK. He questioned why local trials cannot take place where only those with a vaccine certificate are permitted to enter.
While no official announcement has yet to be made, several venues around Malta are said to be willing to open to those customers who can present a valid vaccine certificate. Some are also proposing to adopt the EU’s Green Certificate for travel system, which also displays negative PCR test results and whether a person has presumed immunity after having recovered from COVID.
One club owner said that the last thing the industry wants is to open with limited restrictions, only to have everything shut down again, similar to what took place in summer 2020. “Having said that, we need to have some sort of plan, even if it is just for those who have received the jab.”
‘Mass events have no place during a pandemic’
Speaking during her weekly media briefing, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci, when asked about events, responded strongly, saying they “have no place during a pandemic” and that they are not appropriate until the situation is under control.
“For now, there will be no mass events,” she reiterated.
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Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri notes that education and awareness are the best tools to combat such threats