A woman has opened up about how she was fined by a warden at Ġnejna Bay because she had forgotten to put on her mask before running after her five-year-old son, who had stayed away from her small group.
The woman, a European national whose identity is known to Lovin Malta, said she went for a barbecue at the popular beach three weeks ago along with her young son and her two friends, a couple from the same household.
“I was eating a hot dog when I saw my son running off in the distance,” she said. “I shouted at him to step but he kept on running and was going to cross the road, where cars were passing. My mask was off because I was eating, I was in a state of panic, and didn’t think about putting it on before running after him”
“When a mother sees their child running away, their first thing that comes to their mind is to go after them, not to put their mask on.”
“When I caught my son, I found a warden behind me and he told me ‘mask’. I told him I was running after my son and he asked me for my documents. I gave them to them and tried to explain that my son had run away while I was eating and I needed to go after him.”
“He told me that it would have been fine if I had run into the sea without a mask, but I told him that unfortunately my son ran in the opposite direction. It was same distance really and the same amount of people on the way.”
She said the warden at one point also told my Maltese friend that if they don’t make her shut up, he’ll fine them too.
“He could have just told me nicely, but instead he threatened my friends like that. What did he mean by that threat?”
The woman has appealed the fine but has said she was left frustrated at the warden’s “rudeness” and lack of understanding, warning this isn’t how people in power should behave. She also questioned why the warden focused on her lack of a mask and not the fact that she had a puppy with her, despite signs on the beach saying dogs aren’t allowed.
“I decided to take my dog to the beach anyway and I’d have expected getting fined for that because it was against the rules,” she said.
Maltese law requires everyone to wear a mask at all times outdoors, with a few exceptions, but debate on whether this can be extended to beaches has intensified in recent weeks.
Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci has said the rule is here to stay for the foreseeable future, but that the health authorities are monitoring Israel, which recently removed its requirement for people to wear masks outdoors after the majority of its population got vaccinated against COVID-19.
She has argued that the mandatory mask rule is in line with recommendations by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). However, the ECDC’s recommendations for mask-wearing outdoors are limiting to confined and crowded spaces.
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