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On Tuesday, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that the so-called COVID-19 Exit Map was proceeding according to schedule, with numbers of new cases and hospitalisations being described as “very manageable”.

As a result, Mr Fearne said further restrictions that were set to be revised can go ahead as planned.

Bars free to open till late again

In particularly good news for bars, they and other establishments like restaurants, museums and theatres will no longer have limitations to their operating hours, and may revert to the closing times stipulated in their respective licences.

Quarantine rules relaxed

Furthermore, as from 7th March, primary contacts who have been vaccinated will not have to quarantine. Those who test positive or live with someone who has tested positive will only have to quarantine for seven days, as long as they present a negative test result. Unvaccinated secondary contacts also do not have to quarantine, while unvaccinated primary contacts will have to quarantine for five days and produce a negative test.

Travel

The quarantine period for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from dark-red listed countries will be reduced to seven days, as long as they undergo testing at the end of the self-isolation period.

Malta will also be recognising vaccine certificates accepted not only by the EU but also by the World Health Organisation.

More easing of restrictions to follow

Yet more restrictions are scheduled to be relaxed or dropped in the weeks that follow. From 14th March, there will not be a need for one to wear masks in public places, except in mass events.

Also from 14th March, weddings will be allowed to host up to 300 standing guests.

From 10th April, outdoor standing events will be allowed to resume without restrictions. However, indoor events will be limited only to people who hold valid vaccine certificates.

Where were we a year ago?

The optimistic outlook going into spring is a far cry from the situation in the country the same time a year ago.

On 4th March 2021, the Prime Minister announced wide-ranging COVID restrictions as the country was battling a second wave of infections, introducing limitations on hospitality, entertainment and catering sectors primarily, a highly challenging time for business owners in those industries.

Restaurants, snack bars and kiosks were only permitted to serve takeaways, while bars and nightclubs remained closed, which they had been since October 2020. Mass events, except for weddings and religious services, were completely banned. Household mixing was limited to just four.

A directive for public sector workers to work remotely was also introduced, while the private sector was urged to do the same.

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