Malta tightens COVID-19 restrictions


VALLETTA, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Bars across Malta will have to remain shut from Thursday and the maximum number of people allowed to meet in public spaces will be reduced from 10 to six, the country's government announced on Monday.

The measures are expected to stem the spread of the COVID-19 as the island is preparing for the second wave.

In a statement, the Health Ministry said that the new measures will remain in force until Dec. 1.

Snack bars and kiosks will be allowed to serve customers but will not be allowed to sell alcoholic drinks and will have to remain shut between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The fine for breaking the social distancing rules will be increased from 100 euros to 200 euros.

The government faces increasing pressure to take back control of the situation in the country which had seen only three active cases until July. Currently, Malta has 1,895 active cases. Since March it has reported 5,578 cases and 53 deaths.

Earlier on Monday, the doctors' union warned that urgent measures were needed to curb the spread of COVID-19 and avoid the collapse of the country's healthcare system. It said it was time for the government to "face reality and take decisions based on the advice of medical experts."

It said that the seven-day moving average stood at 125 new COVID-19 cases per day, with two new deaths reported on Sunday, adding that 16 patients were in intensive care and over 80 people had been admitted to hospital.

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