HomeEntertainmentElection rallies means COVID rules on events must be scrapped

Election rallies means COVID rules on events must be scrapped

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The Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association (MEIA) has called for the removal of all COVID-19 restrictions on the entertainment industry immediately, questioning why the sector is being continuously discriminated against while political activities have been allowed to go ahead.

On Thursday, Health Minister Chris Fearne said that standing events outdoors would be given the go-ahead without restrictions as of 11 April. However, for indoor events, a valid vaccine certificate will be required.

When questioned by MaltaToday during a press conference on calls from the entertainment industry, the health minister again reiterated his appeal for people to be responsible and said that “it is not fair that there is a free for all situation.”

“The protocols by the Labour Party are being observed. People attending are being asked to register beforehand to organise these into clusters during the event. Naturally, if not everyone cooperates from both parties, problems will arise,” Fearne said.

However, MEIA president Howard Keith Debono lambasted the authorities for continuing to apply what he said was a two-tier system, where political activities were allowed, yet the entertainment industry, a sector that has taken a major hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, continued to be burdened by restrictions.

“We are confused. This needs to stop now. All restrictions must be removed now,” Debono told MaltaToday, adding that the latest announcement by Fearne fails to address the ongoing discrimination and the urgency to remove all measures with immediate effect.

“Whereas outdoor standing events can start to be organised in April, political mass rallies with supporters standing outside tents are now a daily occurrence. Whereas patrons can already enter bars without a vaccine certificate and rightfully so, entry to standing events in clubs can only be held with a vaccine certificate and only from April,” Debono said.

The music producer said entertainment players had been discriminated against enough, and workers in the industry continue to suffer from illogical measures that create a non-level playing field, with blatant irregularities and a two-weights, two-measures scenarios. “We reiterate our call for the immediate removal of all measures on the belief that the virus does not distinguish between venues and human behaviour.”

‘For two years, we haven’t been able to work’

Full-time musician Nick Morales spoke to MaltaToday about his industry’s hardships since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“For the last two years, we haven’t been able to work. People need to understand I worked hard to make sure I could do this for a living; getting another job is just not an option. So, seeing political activities going ahead when our sector has suffered so much is prettying annoying and upsetting,” Morales said.

Morales highlighted that this was not the first time the authorities have allowed events to take place outside the COVID-19 regulations.

Back in January, the Malta Film Awards caused controversy due to, in part, the lack of COVID-19 regulation enforcement – which saw audience members go mask-less, which was a violation of the regulation.

And back in November 2021, heavy criticism came the way of a SIGMA gaming summit that was allowed to ignore COVID rules without respect to social distancing. This was at the same time the Malta Book Festival had been bogged down with strict COVID-19 guidelines.

“They are basically telling us that some are more equal than others and encouraging people to break the law,” Morales said in frustration. “Mass events are not organised from one day to the next and that festivals can take upwards of a year to plan – it’s not as simple.”

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