Covid-19: Restrictions to be relaxed for fully vaccinated events, public transport from Monday


Kevin Schembri Orland

Friday 15 October 2021, 13:12
Last update: about 18 hours ago

A number of restrictive measures related to Covid-19 are to be relaxed from Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne announced.

The Covid-19 situation remains under control, Fearne said. He said that since the Covid situation is under control and a high number of booster doses are taken by eligible people, “we can continue to gradually ease restrictive measures.”

A number of measures will be relaxed for large events and weddings which only fully vaccinated people will be able to attend from Monday, October 18. These are:

– Children under 12 accompanying vaccinated adults at such events must currently provide a negative PCR test. This will no longer be the case.

– Until now, such events were only allowed to six people seated per table. From Monday, this will increase to 8 people.

– In terms of table spacing, for events organized outdoors, the required distance between tables will be reduced from 2m to 1m and indoors from 2m to 1.5m.

– In terms of seated events, until now they had to either see a distance of 2m between each seat, or, using a distance of 1m, the number of people was limited to 100. As of Monday, for such seated events, (including theaters and cinemas that choose to allow only fully vaccinated individuals), this cap will increase to 300 people when they are only one meter apart.

He said that a test event that saw almost no restrictions used took place, and he expects to have the results, in terms of the Covid situation among attendees, by the end of the week. This would allow health authorities to review restrictions related to the Christmas season, pantomime season and weddings.

Another restriction being eased relates to the public transport sector. Until now, these vehicles, including ferries, could not carry more than 65% of their capacity in terms of passengers. From Monday, this figure will rise to 80%.

To travel

Fearne also spoke about international travel.

“In the last few weeks, we had classified countries according to a traffic light system, whether they were on the red list or on the dark red list for example, and we were paying attention to countries where the Mu variant was present. It appears that this variant, even according to the World Health Organization, while still being a variant of interest is no longer considered a variant of worry. “

He said health authorities would remove the impact criteria for the Mu variant when it comes to deciding whether a country is listed as red or dark red. This means that in the next few days – given that the travel list is updated every week – a number of countries (especially in South America) will move from the dark red list to the red list, he said. he stated, which means it would facilitate travel to and from these countries.

He said there appears to be a high number of new cases of Covid in some countries in Eastern Europe. For example, Russia reported the most single-day deaths on Thursday since the start of the pandemic, he said.

“So it could be that some countries, especially in Eastern Europe, move from the red list to the dark red list. The list is updated once a week, normally at the start of the week, and the effects take effect. five days after the announcement, giving people the opportunity to change their plans. “

The government now recognizes vaccination certificates from four new countries: Armenia, Moldova, Iraq and South Korea.

Regarding the flu vaccine, the invitations will not be sent, but they will start to be offered from October 25 as usual in health centers. During the first three weeks, it will only be accessible to people aged 55 and over, people with a chronic illness and people living in institutions. It will also be offered to children under 12 during these first three weeks as they cannot take the Covid vaccine. Weekends would be reserved for these children to be vaccinated against the flu, which would come in the form of a spray.

During the press conference, Fearne recalled the recently announced budget measures for the health sector. He described the budget allocated to this sector this year as “a record sum of 972 million euros”.

He said recurrent spending would amount to € 897 million. This will be spent on the salaries of health professionals, services provided, drugs, etc., he said. 75 million euros will be devoted to capital expenditure.

He mentioned a number of proposed measures. He said work for a new acute psychiatric hospital is underway, designs will be released in 2022, and work on the planning process will continue thereafter. The government is also working on a tender for a temporary acute psychiatric hospital that will run until the new hospital is built, for around four years, he said. The call for tenders is being drafted before being issued.

He also mentioned that the government is working on a pandemic reserve, which would be a location reserved for pandemic situations and allow services at Mater Dei Hospital to continue unhindered in such situations.

Another investment project is a new outpatient unit that will rise to six floors. Tenders will be launched and next year, the excavation of five floors, allowing the construction of a new underground car park, will begin.

He also said the government would expand the list of drugs available on the government formulary.

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