Malta will allow non-essential shops to re-open on Monday, Prime Minister Robert Abela has announced.
These include lottery stores, VRT testing, clothes and sports shops, jewellery stores, bag stores, eyewear stores, beauty stores, souvenir stores, discount stores, furniture stores and flower sellers. Hairdresser salons won’t open yet.
Everyone who enters the store and makes use of public transport will have to wear a mask.
Stores must have hand sanitizers outside their outlet and include clearly marked two-metre lines for people to maintain social distancing while queuing. Every shop must work out their interior area and allow one client to enter for every ten square metres. Shops must declare the maximum number of clients allowed outside their outlets. Shop owners will have a right to refuse entry to people who look sick.
People who enter shopping malls will have their temperature checked and malls will limit the number of people who can enter at any given moment depending on the capacity of their stores. People won’t be allowed to enter changing rooms at clothing stores.
The plan is for all the establishments to open by the end of the month. Despite being allowed to open, the businesses will still be able to benefit from the government’s €800 wage supplement scheme.
Public social distancing laws have also been slightly eased, with up to four people now allowed to gather in public, an increase from the current three.
The situation will be re-assessed in three weeks time.
Abela called a press conference today, on Workers’ Day, to give details of the government’s transition strategy in light of the recent COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions.
“Many asked me how I managed to remain positive in such a tough situation and my response was always the same, that I had hope that brighter days are coming,” Abela said. “I always trusted the people and the health authorities and we didn’t allow the virus to catch us wrong-footed.”
“I always believed that a balance would yield the best results, and that measures should be effective but not overly restrictive. We introduced measures in a scientific and informed near, not too early or too late but at the right time. Time has proved me right and I’m proud to have resisted calls for a lockdown.”
“A lockdown would have meant a lot of suffering, the destruction of the economy and the loss of several jobs, a situation I couldn’t allow. It wasn’t an easy decision but it was one I shouldered with responsibility.”
“A brighter day has now dawned. It doesn’t mean that everything has passed but that we’ve started moving towards the new normal and its success will depend on the people more than ever.”