Footage has emerged showing that a couple who were fined by police at Golden Bay last weekend for lowering their masks to drink coffee and juice were socially distanced from other beachgoers.
After Lovin Malta published a video the couple took right after they were fined to decry the perceived injustice, another beachgoer sent a video he took of the couple getting fined.
It clearly backs the couple’s version of events that they were socially distanced from other beachgoers. In fact, large groups of other people, including some maskless ones, can be seen congregated elsewhere on the beach.
The woman who was fined last Saturday told Lovin Malta that police fined her and her boyfriend because they kept their masks on their chins while drinking coffee and juice by themselves.
She said that the police officers told them that their masks weren’t on their chins while they were drinking, and insisted they hand over their passports.
“When I gave her my passport, the police officer was really rude and kept asking me if I’m from Latvia and which hotel I’m staying at. I told her that my boyfriend and I both live in Malta, and because the situation was unfair and I wasn’t breaking any rules, I told them I will record a video and contest the fines.”
The beachgoer said she suspects the police officers didn’t see their drinks because they were between her and boyfriend, and they approached from an angle that hid the beverages from their view. She has also pledged to contest the fines.
@lovinmaltaofficialTwo Golden Bay beachgoers have filmed police officers after being fined for allegedly keeping their masks on their chins while drinking 👀 ##fyp ##malta
“If so, they could just apologise and leave us alone as we didn’t break any rules,” she said. “Instead, they were rude and arrogant.”
Maltese law requires everyone to wear a mask at all times outdoors, but with a few exceptions, including eating and smoking (so long as you’re not moving) and drinking. However, some enforcement officers have been criticised for interpreting the law too literally and for fining people for keeping their masks lowered between sips of beverage.
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.