Health Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne together with the Superintendent of Public Health, Prof. Charmaine Gauci held a press conference earlier on Thursday, during which new COVID-19 restrictive measures were announced. This follows the first Omicron cases found.
Fearne stated that two cases of the variation have been discovered in the nation which may have caused the significant increase in cases. He emphasised that the booster vaccination is effective against the Omicron variant, while announcing that people aged 18 and above will be able to register for the booster jab from next Monday 27th December.
Amongst the new measures announced, Fearne stated that as of January 17th, pubs, snack bars, restaurants, gyms, spas, casinos, bingo halls, theatres, cinemas, and sport events will only be accessible to those who have valid vaccine certificates.
From Monday, December 27th to Monday, January 17th, all events must be seated. This excludes weddings and funerals, which can continue under the current protocols. Furthermore, restaurants cannot stay open until 1 a.m. until the 17th of January, and sporting events will be staged behind closed doors until then.
Fearne also stated that mask wearing will no longer be mandatory in public or in groups of a maximum of 2 people.
He claimed that by the time schools reopen in January, the government hopes to have vaccinated all children aged 5 to 11.
Fearne also explained that the 17th of January, the vaccine certificate will include the booster jab, giving those who have had two jabs three months to acquire a booster jab in order to have a valid certificate. Once the booster shot is administered, the certificate will be considered valid for nine months.
Meanwhile, health officials recorded 733 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the second highest number of cases in a row. 92 persons have recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of active COVID-19 cases in Malta to 3,632. This is also a record high in terms of active cases — where the previous high was 3,403 on the 6th of March 2021.