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Here are the latest COVID-19 mitigation measures

New measures have been announced by Prime Minister Robert Abela this afternoon, in an attempt to bring the increasingly high number of COVID-19 cases down.

As of tomorrow, restaurants and snack bars will only be permitted to offer take-away and delivery services, until 11 April. Also, under the new regulations, mass gatherings are completely prohibited, except for weddings and religious activities.

The Prime Minister also announced that no more than four people hailing from different households will be allowed to congregate in one private gathering or household. Any breach of this rule will carry a €100 fine. Speaking of fines, any people found breaking the rules related to the closure of nightclubs, bars and clubs will be fined €6,000, double the old fine.

Abela went on to announce that government workers will be going into telework and called on the private sector to encourage teleworking too, wherever possible.

The Prime Minister added that contact sports for those up to 17 years of age are being stopped and hospital visits are also being brought to an end, until further notice.

The government will continue to aid businesses impacted by the measures and will be extending the wage supplement to June. In the same vein, restaurants that plan on going online, will also be helped. Those restaurants and kiosks will go back on full wage supplements.

“I am very proud of every single one of you,” said Abela, as he sought to instil confidence in the future, highlighting the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

What is causing the cases to spike?

Though the answer may not be as clear-cut as we like, Health Minister Chris Fearne attempted to shine a light. In the same conference, he said that there is no doubt that the increased number of new cases was serious and a cause for concern. He added that the UK variant of the virus appeared to be largely to blame for the increase.

With regards to the vaccine, the Health Minister said that it was working well and great results are being seen abroad, as well as locally. What’s more, in Malta, 13% of the population has been vaccinated so far, with half that number also having received the second dose.

The Minister added that the authorities did not wish to close schools, due to the importance of education and even more so as teachers are in the process of being vaccinated.

Sports activities for those under 17 are being stopped, he said, as the UK variant appears to be causing more infections among children. Though cases were not serious, the virus could then easily be transmitted to adults.

More to come.