Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela was granted a special exemption to avoid the mandatory two-week quarantine upon his return from Libya.
Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci issued the order on 28th May deeming the trip an essential service, a legal notice shows. The exemption applies to any person on board that flight.
Abela left the island for the first time since the pandemic broke out in March, travelling to Libya with two other ministers for an official meeting on migration with the Government of National Accord’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
A video uploaded showed snippets of their meeting, including an out of tune rendition of the national anthem.
He flew back to Malta a few hours later having signed a memorandum of understanding for Malta and Libya to coordinate their operations against illegal migration.
Abela’s trip raised questions as to whether he, as well as Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo and Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri, who accompanied him to Libya, must self-quarantine for two weeks.
However, Gauci, who has been given special powers under the public emergency, declared the visit as an essential service.
Migration has emerged as a significant issue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Malta, Spain, and Italy have declared the ports unsafe due to the pandemic. Libya has also closed its ports due to the ongoing civil war.
Around 425 people are currently in limbo on board harbour cruise ships outside Maltese waters. However, the government maintains it will not allow migrants into Malta without an EU relocation policy.
Meanwhile, Malta’s Armed Forces could also be facing charges in Italy after officers refused to rescue 101 asylum seekers in Maltese waters and ushered them to Italy.
Should the Prime Minister’s trip be considered an essential service? Comment below