Social, cultural activities with seated and limited audiences to start from 5 July

Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne has announced that social and cultural activities in Maltese and Gozitan towns and villages will be starting again with effect from 5 July.

During a media conference together with Culture Minister Jose Herrera and Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci, Dr Fearne explained that only persons holding a vaccination certificate will be able to attend these activities.

These activities can be held at both indoor and outdoor venues, and in enclosed areas with controlled entry.

The Deputy Prime Minister stated that for the present, the permitted activities will be for a seated audience according to public health protocols, and this in order to continue to maintain social distancing.

Dr Fearne added that every activity will require the filling in of a risk assessment form, which will be available from Monday from the Malta Tourism Authority.

The number of attendees permissible for these activities will start being gradually increased. This means that from 5 July, an activity can be attended by 100 persons, which number will be increased to 150 a fortnight later, and to 200 on 2 August.

These activities can be of any format, including cultural and social events.

The Health Minister stated this means that in a cautious manner and without endangering what has been achieved so far thanks to the vaccine and other restrictive measures, we will be able to return to our cultural and social lifestyle.

“This is the moment when we have to show seriousness and discipline. We have to be careful not to take the law into our own hands, thinking everything has been sorted out, as the pandemic is still strong all around us,” Minister Fearne added.

Minister Herrera stated that after cinemas and theatres opened up on 7 June, we are now entering the second phase, this being the gradual opening up for activities and events in a controlled manner and with a limited audience, with the entrance being controlled for those presenting a vaccination certificate. Following a start with capping for 100 persons, within four weeks the activities can start catering for up to 200 persons. This because the number will go up by 50 every fortnight. These numbers do not include, staff, technical crew and artists.

Dr Herrera added that the sector has the strength and the urge to express its talents, generate work and create economic activity. The Minister stated, however, that for this to work, we can not risk undoing what has been achieved in a gradual manner.

Dr Herrera said he is certain organisers, promoters and all those involved in the culture industry will be operating within limits in a responsible manner, as they know the only way forward is to open gradually and with prudence.

Minister Herrera stated he understands that not every activity for just 100 persons will generate the necessary income. The Minister added that Government’s commitment will remain clear, and just as it had created a programme and initiatives and schemes with a value of four million euro in recent months, even in this case a scheme will be launched within days to help with the start-up, which can prove difficult.

Professor Charmaine Gauci pointed out that those unable to take the vaccine, including children under the age of 11, will be able to attend these activities, but with a number of conditions. Children under age 5 will not require any Covid-19 test, whilst those between 5 and 11 years of age have to present a test. Pregnant women have to present a certificate confirming their pregnancy and a Covid test showing they are negative for the virus.

Professor Gauci further explained that these documents, including the vaccination certificate, have to be verified at the entrance, and the organisers will have the facility to verify that the vaccination certificate is valid. This means the organisers have to apply for an MTA permit, and that these events have to be carried out through a booking, which means people cannot just turn up and gain entrance or obtain tickets at the entrance.

Professor Gauci added that the vaccination certificate with the QR code has to be presented, the crew need to have a vaccination certificate, and the organisers can turn away anyone who looks ill.

The number of persons in a venue is one person for every four sq m, with a capping starting at 100 persons. If the activity is held outdoors, there should be a distance of between five and ten metres in order to avoid overcrowding.

Professor Gauci stressed that these activities are not permitted in residences, even rented premises. This means no one can rent a residential property and organise an activity on the premises.

People cannot stand during these activities, except for entry or exit or for visits to the bathroom. No intervals are allowed during these activities, as these can give rise to mixing of people.

Food has to be served at tables, and no buffet service is allowed. Masks are to be worn during these activities, except when food is being consumed. Smoking is not allowed.

The organisers are obliged to keep records of attendees and of their seating arrangements, so that in the event of a positive case emerging, this is identified at once.