Persons caught without a mask may be fined up to €4,650 or two-years imprisonment
Television Malta can confirm that persons who do not obey the directives on masks, announced by the Public Health Superintendent and which are still not regulated by a legal notice, may be imprisoned up to two years or fined up to €4,658 if found guilty in Court.
These sentences, according to the Public Health Act, apply to measures, not yet published with a legal notice, that include, among others, the obligatory use of masks in shops, on buses and on Gozo Channel vessels.
“The crime emanates from the public health legislation, and therefore if there is a contravention, this follows other contraventions that are usually taken against persons who breach the Public Health Act and this is a case to be presented in Court”, Pro. Charmaine Gauci said.
Bus drivers at the Buġibba terminus acknowledged that commuters had different views on the wearing of masks.
“Some of them are wearing them. Some of them are not wearing but I keep on advising them to put on masks. If police catch you or inspectors come in the bus you need to pay a fine.”
Prof. Gauci reiterated that persons should wear a mask or a face shield when entering buses. “The driver has the right to refuse persons who are not wearing masks”.
A spokeswoman for public transport operator remarked that the driver’s duty is to drive a bus, thus the Malta Public Transport requested clarifications on the new measures by the health authorities.
Another hot issue is the price of face masks and face Shields. Following the government’s announcement of a fixed price of 95 cents for a disposable mask and €5 for face shields, the Pharmacists Chamber directed its members not to provide these products to the consumers until the Government clarifies the situation.
The Chamber complained that it was not consulted by the Government, saying that pharmacies and pharmacists have no control on these products’ prices because they are fixed by retail Sellers.
The Chamber of Commerce described the Government measure as unacceptable and said it creates a bad precedent. While requesting the Government to withdraw this order, the Chamber said it is ready to offer solutions.
The same view was expressed by the Chamber of SMEs which said that the Government pushed Malta back to 50 years with this decision.
Prime Minister Robert Abela stated that the Government understands the pharmacists’ concern and assured that a compromise is reached between the two sides. “Consultation is ongoing. This is not a Government that imposes, but a Government which discusses”.
Hardware stores owners who spoke with Television Malta said their consignment of disposable masks has finished and they ordered more. Dr Abela said the Government is committed to continue assisting the people, even in the prices of these products.
“If there is reason to continue assisting the people; we have greatly assisted. It is not enough, I understand the current particular circumstances we are living”.
Residents at Tas-Sliema said that pharmacies have different prices for face masks.
Meanwhile, the Bankers Association announced that, following talks with health authorities, it was decided that clients will be allowed to remove the mask while being served in banks. The association stated that this is being done for security reasons, among others.
Those who don’t wear masks while shopping or using public transport are breaking the law