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Watch: Masks off from May 2 as Malta lifts most COVID-19 measures
Face coverings only mandatory in hospitals, care homes and flights
Masks will no longer be mandatory anywhere from May 2 except on flights, hospitals and in care homes, health minister Chris Fearne announced as he lifted most remaining COVID-19 measures.
There will also be no need to present a Passenger Locator Form when travelling to Malta while weddings and all other social activities can resume as normal.
And anyone who lives with a COVID-19 patient will no longer be required to quarantine, unless they are also showing symptoms of the virus.
"We want to move towards normality, with responsibility," Fearne told a news conference on Friday alongside Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci.
The rule around wearing masks in shops and busses and other public spaces has been in place since May 2020 as part of a raft of measures to help businesses operate safely.
Fearne said he still recommended masks are worn in large gatherings or crowding but it would not be mandatory.
Also from May 2, only those who test positive for COVID-19 have to isolate. They must quarantine for one week, after which they can exit upon proof of a negative test or remain in quarantine until the tenth day.
Anyone in the same household does not have to quarantine, unless they have symptoms of the virus. This rule does not apply to hospitals and care homes.
Travel rules stay
While the Passenger Locator Form will no longer be needed, most travel rules remain in place. Anyone arriving in Malta will still need to present either a vaccine certificate, negative PCR test or recovery certificate for entry.
The red and dark red travel lists will also remain in place.
Fearne pointed to persistently low numbers in Mater Dei hospital's intensive care unit as a reason for lifting the measures. Of the 88 people in hospital with COVID-19, a total of 39 are being treated for the virus, two of whom are in intensive care.
"This number has been like this for months, even when the numbers in the community went up," Fearne said. "The vaccine is effective when it comes to complications because even when the number of new cases spiked, the cases in ITU stayed low."
"The fact we have all this immunity and even despite the variants and other increases we didn't see the spike in hospital cases, our exit roadmap, which we introduced months ago, can continue," he said. "We are nearing the time when we will have all measures removed."
249 new cases
On Friday there were 249 new cases of the virus. Free testing will remain and all swabbing centres will remain open, except for one in Ħal Farruġ.
Fearne also pointed to Malta's high uptake of the vaccine, with 97 per cent of the eligible population taking two doses and over 80 per cent opting for the booster.
A second booster is currently being rolled out for the elderly and vulnerable groups, with 7,000 administered so far.
Charmaine Gauci said that only 51 per cent of COVID-19 deaths were caused by the virus in April, down from 76 per cent previously.
"This is clearly due to the vaccine," she said. "We are moving towards the phase where people can make their own risk assessments whilst also protecting the most vulnerable."