Loud music, gallons of beer and a whole lot of green usually fill the streets of busy hubs like Paceville today, but for the second year in a row, Malta will not be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, it was this same holiday that had marked the beginning of cancelled festivities back in 2020.
On 10th March 2020, hours after stopping all passenger flights to Italy and catamaran trips to Sicily, Malta banned mass outdoor activities of more than 2,000 people and indoor activities involving more than 750 people in what was then the first week of COVID-19 on the island. The St. Julian’s Local Council quickly followed this up by confirming that it wouldn’t issue any permits for festivities.
Of course, this being Malta, some people were still intent on getting their overpriced pints whether or not they should.
Barely 12 hours after the government’s announcement, one popular Spinola pub at the heart of the Paddy parties announced it would still be going ahead with the “limited” crowd of 500 people, proudly announcing “you can’t kill the party”.
Those turned out to be some very ironic famous last words, as a couple of hours and thousands of negative comments later, the party – and any other festivity inspired by the pub’s panache – was officially cancelled.
Now, one whole year later, Malta finds itself in a very familiar position… with some fundamental changes.
For starters, Malta registered nine new cases on the eve of St. Patrick’s 2020, with the total active cases sitting at 30.
Yesterday, Malta registered 313 new infections of COVID-19, and active cases are currently 3,113.
At the same time, with the island’s vaccination roll-out still ploughing ahead, Malta has now given out 126,277 doses, of which 40,681 were second doses. Many projections didn’t even predict a single vaccine being approved within a year, and yet we already have four different shots approved and tens of thousands of people jabbed.
And while it’s very hard to imagine mass events happening right now with Malta’s record-breaking incidence of new daily infections, hope has never been this clearly on the horizon.
As the islands buckle down for the second week of quasi-lockdown and power through at least another three and a half weeks of this, added vaccine approvals and (hopefully) less virus exposure over the next month hold a potentially better spring 2021.
In the meantime, though, it’s time to pull out your greenest outfit and that prized pint of Guinness and enjoy it… from the safety and isolation of your home. We’ve been here before, and we know we can do this… so let’s.
And hey, people aren’t the only ones getting some TLC on a day like today – maybe St Julian’s could do with one less mass littering event.