The current situation in Malta – COVID19 updates
As the number of cases in Malta increases, the Maltese Government has made continuous efforts in order to ensure that the current situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) is contained. To limit the spreading of this disease as much as possible, the Government has published a number of Legal Notices relating to the closure of places open to the public which includes inter alia; restaurants, bars, gymnasiums etc. as well as an extension period to the closure of schools in the country. On Sunday 22nd March, the Government went a step further and published a list of shops which were to close from Monday 23rd March 2020.
Any person who fails to abide by the regulations stipulated in these legal notices, shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to pay a penalty of €3,000 for every occasion that the order for closure of public places open to the public is breached. Likewise, any shops not obeying the order to close down will also face such a fine.
The Maltese public is being urged to minimise social contact as much as possible and to avoid mass gatherings to limit the risk of transmitting this virus locally. Thousands of workers across the country are being asked to work from home in order reduce social contact to the greatest extent.
Apart from introducing measures to reduce contact between people, authorities are also in the process of ramping up training efforts for healthcare workers and stocking up on medical equipment and other resources.
Closure of Malta Airport International
As of 20th March 2020, all inbound commercial flights to Malta have been suspended. Malta will now only allow cargo, humanitarian and repatriation flights to land in an attempt to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Malta Airport International CEO, Alan Borg, referred to this as “a dark day for the local aviation industry and all stakeholders who have worked tirelessly to ensure the industry’s growth and success over the past years.”
The Malta Business Aviation Association (MBAA) represents the largest sector of Malta’s aviation industry. The MBAA has released a statement to the industry in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic providing a general overview of precautions and relevant sources of information to its members. The business aviation sector in Malta is crucial to Malta’s recent success in growing its emerging aviation sector and such needs to be safeguarded. The MBAA have stated that it will be at forefront of making the voice of the business aviation sector heard with government and local authorities and that any relief packages that are to be offered are sufficient and assist business aviation operators survival in these tough business conditions which have resulted from the curtailment of flights all around the world.
The Coronavirus has also started taking its toll on businesses in Malta, with many of them having to temporarily shut down their operations. Countries all over the world have announced a variety of measures which are geared towards relieving the distress that businesses have to face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Maltese Government has announced a number of measures to reduce the strain that local businesses are facing at this present time. These general economic measures amount to €850 million, comprising of €700 million in temporary passive assistance, i.e. tax deferrals and €150 million in state bank guarantees. Another measure implemented by the Government is the acceleration of VAT refund payments to business. Moreover, the Government is allowing local banks to accept requests for a 3-month suspension for the repayment of personal and business loans.