We might have started a brand new year, but there’s no way we’re leaving 2020’s problems behind us. The first couple of days of 2021 gave way to a flurry of heartbreaks, controversies, and downright odd stories – and if they’re anything to go by, it seems like this year’s going to be one hell of a rollercoaster.
Having said that, these are Malta’s six biggest stories from the past week. Here we go!
1. Eight tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a San Ġwann tombola lunch
The local council’s Executive Secretary, Kurt Guillaumier, explained how “all legal protocols” were followed throughout the lunch. Guillaumier said that the venue was licensed to operate such an event and was well-equipped to cater to the event in a safe manner.
The same sentiment was echoed by the venue’s cluster general manager, Shawn Muscat. In spite of this, a number of San Ġwann residents reiterated concerns about the repercussions of such an activity.
2. NYE celebrations saw crowds gather in Valletta and fights break out in Paceville
Hundreds of people flocked to Valletta on New Year’s Eve, despite health authorities’ advice to abide by social distancing measures. These actions were condemned by many online, including social media influencer Terry Ta’ Bormla.
Meanwhile, not one, but two fights broke out that very same night. The first, which happened in St Julian’s at around 1am, led to police pulling out taser guns and the hospitalisation of three people.
Shortly after, at 1.20am, a fight between two people at Triq it-Teatru l-Antik in Valletta ended with one of the assailants in hospital. The fight involved two men from Floriana – a 22-year-old and a 51-year-old.
3. LIDL confirmed it wants to purchase four Scotts outlets
Bargain supermarket chain LIDL confirmed that it is in advanced talks to purchase four outlets from Scotts. A LIDL spokesperson said that the deal is currently at the Office for Competition for scrutiny as to whether it breaches competitiveness regulations.
It is estimated that the deal is worth around €35 million.
Scotts, run by Said Investments, owns six supermarkets all over Malta. LIDL, on the other hand, owns eight supermarkets. It is not yet known which outlets will be transferred to LIDL and which will remain in the hands of Scotts.
4. Adrian Delia presented a €500,000 donation to Dar tal-Providenza
Former PN leader Adrian Delia presented two huge donations to Dar tal-Providenza during the organisation’s annual fundraising telethon.
Delia first presented a €22,725 cheque on behalf of his team and then a €500,000 cheque on behalf of the Catco Group – a Tunisian business which recently sponsored Sliema Wanderers FC. Due to the sheer size of the latter donation, it is currently subject to a vetting process by Dar tal-Providenza.
When Delia was presenting the Catco Group donation, NET TV switched transmission to a broadcast of currently PN leader Bernard Grech leading to online commentators alleging that the TV station purposefully cut the transmission at that moment. NET TV has since denied said allegations.
5. Malta registered its first case of the UK COVID-19 variant
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne took to Twitter to announce that the first cases of the UK COVID-19 variant were found in Malta. The variant is known to be more transmissible than the current COVID-19 strain, although it is not known to be deadlier.
Later that day, Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci confirmed that three cases of the said variant are in Malta.
Two out of the three positive cases are foreigners who arrived in Malta from England on 19th December. They were both put under quarantine. The remaining positive case is a Maltese woman. Gauci said that this case is still being investigated.
6. A priest criticised pro-choice politicians for appearing on a charity marathon
Dun Marc Andre Camilleri said it was “hypocritical” for those who campaign for abortion to be present at the Dar tal-Providenza fundraising marathon.
Camilleri claimed that said politicians, who he refused to name, only use such platforms to gain votes and should be ashamed of themselves for doing so. “You can fool some people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. Blood stained hands,” Camilleri wrote.
The 12-hour marathon saw a record €2,531,540 being raised.