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From Mellieħa To St Julian’s To Għarb, Local Councils Want To Shut Down Beaches

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Maltese local councils are calling for the closure of their beaches in a bid to prevent people from gathering along their localities’ sandy shores.

Mayors and councillors from Għarb and Qala in Gozo to St Julian’s and Mellieħa in Malta have spoken out about rolling out temporary new measures to stop people from congregating in groups as the islands try to stop the spread of COVID-19 – and that might mean no sandy castles in the near future.

“I am proposing that all the bays in Malta and Gozo be closed off for people. At the moment we need these drastic measures,” Qala mayor Paul Buttigieg said.

The idea comes alongside a sunny Easter weekend where, despite repeated and clear instructions by Malta’s health authorities, a record 104 fines were handed out on Easter Sunday alone. And images of groups gathered at popular beaches like Golden Bay, Għajn Tuffieħa and even along the Coast Road have led to mass anger among segments of the Maltese population who are inside their homes following guidelines.

However, Prime Minister Robert Abela said he was generally pleased at how the Maltese public followed the health authorities’ social distancing advice over the Easter weekend.

For the most part, local councils do not have the power to close beaches and bays, though some councils do have the option, such as the Mellieħa council over Golden Bay.

And it’s not just the mayors – a public poll by Lovin Malta found that 81% of respondents wanted to shut down Malta’s beaches to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

It is currently illegal to gather in groups of more than three people in Malta unless they all live together, with fines of €100 given to each person found breaking the law.

Cover photo: Għadira Bay, 2019

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