Malta imposes mandatory use of masks as daily COVID-19 infections surge

  • World
  • Saturday, 17 Oct 2020

VALLETTA, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- Malta will introduce the mandatory use of masks in public, as well as the closure of all pubs at 11 p.m., as the country has witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced on Friday.

The new measures were in response to a spike in new infections, with 122 new cases reported on Friday, a record number since the start of the pandemic in the country in March.

Compulsory use of masks will take effect from Saturday, while the closing time for pubs will enter into force from Monday.

"The situation is still under control but we all need to be more responsible. We are seeing that people are not respecting the rules so we need to be stricter on enforcing them so that we can really continue to keep tabs on the pandemic," Abela told a press conference.

Police officers, community enforcement agents, health inspectors and tourism officials will step up their enforcement through COVID-19-dedicated teams.

Previously, masks needed to be worn in shops and on public transport. People inside offices will now have to wear them too.

"We have to take action to protect not only the lives, especially of the vulnerable, but also the livelihood of people whose jobs are at stake if the economy crumbles. Everyone must do their bit," Abela said.

"Life must go on. But to do so, we have to be responsible towards each other," he added.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced during the same press conference that Malta will be rolling out COVID-19 rapid testing, which is able to give an accurate result in just 30 minutes.

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