A WhatsApp group used to organise illegal parties, including the White Rocks rave that was recently broken up by police, shines a light on how such activities are being organised in the shadow of COVID-19.
Lovin Malta is publishing chats from this group, including its description, which lists five rules for people seeking to have a good time.
“If you’re afraid of getting caught, leave this chat now. If you get caught, make up a name. If you get caught, you don’t know us. Enjoy yourself. Don’t die.”
When announcing that a rave was taking place in Pembroke on 26th February, an organiser said it will involve the same crew behind New Year’s Eve and Anti-Valentine’s parties, suggesting this was at least the third illegal rave organised by this group since the start of the year.
Lovin Malta is reliably informed that other similar WhatsApp groups exist and that other illegal parties have been organised.
For the White Rocks party, an organiser asked guests to bring their masks with them in case police turn up and to leave their IDs at home.
“If the police come, mention no names,” the organiser said, repeating the group’s rules. “Peace, love, unity, respect.”
This party was eventually broken up by police, who have pledged to charge the organiser.
People in the WhatsApp group discussed the arrest, with one person urging people in the group to report FreeHour, which was the first to publish a video of the party.
“It’s not good for anyone here if this stuff is out in the public,” he said. “It’s only going to make the police want to crack down harder in future if they’re getting embarrassed on social media by this sort of thing happening.”
After police confirmed that arrests were made, someone in the group claimed the organiser has been given a warning and let off and another person said he was fined €1,500.
Fines for illegal event organisers used to stand at €3,000 but were doubled to €6,000 yesterday. A police spokesperson told Lovin Malta today that the organiser will indeed be charged in court.
In response, someone shrugged off the fine, arguing it was only issued to keep the people of Malta happy that something’s been ‘done’. This comment prompted some people in the group to mock Malta and its people.
“Sounds like Malta to be honest,” someone responded.
“Looool this is so funny. What a bulls**t country hahaha,” another person said.
“Malta is so backwards and probably just blagging it to keep the sheep happy,” yet another person chimed in.
Malta is currently experiencing its greatest surge in COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 283 new infections confirmed today.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced a raft of new restrictions, closing restaurants until at least 11th April, limiting gatherings at homes to a maximum of four households, and banning contact sports for everyone 16 years old and younger.
On Monday, the directive for public workers to work from home when possible will be re-introduced, while the private sector is being encouraged to follow suit.