Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli said Malta is branded as a safe country, and as from Friday the engines will be re-started towards the normality we were used to.
Addressing the media after the government announced the relaxation of measures that were introduced to combat the spread Coronavirus, Farrugia Portelli made a strong pitch towards internal tourism that is needed in the next few weeks and months.
The airport for now remains closed, but from Friday there will be nothing to stop the Maltese from acting as tourists at home.
“The largest branding that Malta will have is that Malta is safe due to the way we have handled the Covid-19 situation,” she said while highlighting the fact that we are at a point where internal tourism can restart.
She explained that from today, the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) will be opening up its helpline 21692447 to a new situation; restaurants and establishments have the possibility to call if they are willing to open for service. The authority will then inspect the premises and issue Covid compliant sticker to be placed at the front of the establishment.
The Covid-19 compliant sticker is a certificate that the MTA issues to operators that ensures that they are up to hygiene standards. The authority warned that this does not mean that just because one gets the sticker they cannot keep following the rules as inspections will happen randomly.
“We will not allow anyone to abuse from our people’s health and if this protocol will not be followed, the licence will be withdrawn,” Farrugia Portelli said.
There will be formulas that establishments will have to fill in in order to ensure that they are providing a safe place to offer services to the public.
He explained that all workers have a right for a safe and healthy environment. However, they must also be able to adapt and promote safe work practices to ensure that hygiene measures are up to standard. Therefore, they must be prepared for the possibility of having Covid-19 in their establishment and be able to react efficiently.
For this to happen, the MTA has released a list of equipment and medical kit that the establishment should have, this includes germicidal disinfectant or wipes for surface cleaning, visors must be cleaned regularly, disposable gloves and protective apron, full length long sleeve gown and a bio-hazard disposable waste bag.
Staff must practice physical distancing and sanitisation as well as wear masks and/or visors
MTA CEO Johan Buttiġieġ said that these protocols are based on 3 concepts; social distancing, hygienic practices and minimising risk of Covid-19 transmission.
Different protocols were set up for different types of establishments, namely accommodation establishments, catering establishments, outdoor establishments or entertainment areas and beach establishments.
With regards to dining areas, Buttiġieġ said that any establishment with an outdoor area cannot use its inside space as indoor dining is only allowed as a concession where outdoor dining is not possible. Additionally, buffet services are not to be offered and smoking, even in outside areas, is prohibited as people must be at a 10 meter distance from any tables.
Another important note on restaurants is that no one is allowed to sit right after someone else as there needs to be proper cleaning beforehand. It is also the responsibility of the owner to not have queues outside of their establishment; Buttiġieġ suggested that one should take note of people’s phone numbers and then call them when a table is ready. He also encouraged owners to extend their serving hours but no later than 11pm.
Tables are being limited to groups of not more than 6 people or persons from the same household and tables should be arranged in a way that there is a 2 meter distance while chairs should be a meter apart.
With regards to pool areas, Buttiġieġ said that the capacity of pools has been reduced to half the amount of that found in public health legislations. No indoor pool areas or water attractions are to operate.
Sunbeds or umbrellas have to be properly disinfected before someone else can use them and should be at a 2 meter distance as well. This also applies to beaches.
Buttiġieġ assured that the amount of space for the general public is not being changed however, it has opened a call for supervisors who will be educating people on how they should occupy the beach and the MTA appealed for everyone to cooperate as they do not want to resort to fines.
Public toilets will be cleaned every hour and the use of portable toilets is prohibited.