March 13, 2020 / 1:31 PM / 18 days ago

Malta imposes 14-day quarantine on all arrivals in bid to stop coronavirus

Security staff wearing protective face masks and gloves wait for visitors at the side-entrance to St. John's Co-Cathedral, after Malta imposed a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals on the island in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus, in Valletta, Malta March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

VALLETTA (Reuters) - Malta has imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine period on all arrivals in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Friday.

“The ban applies to all arrivals, from whichever country,” Abela told a news conference.

The directive is expected to severely impact the tourism sector, which accounts for a quarter of Malta’s gross domestic product.

Earlier in the week the government announced other restrictions, including a ban on large public gatherings, a ban on travel from Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland and the closure of all schools for a week from Friday.

The Church has also suspended all masses, with funeral services being held in cemeteries in the open. Bus operators have been ordered not to allow any standing passengers.

Abela said police would carry out spot checks to make sure that quarantine is observed, with a fine of 1000 euros for offenders.

He said the situation in the country was “calm and under control.”

Malta announced its first coronavirus case on Saturday, and has now reported a total of 12. All were imported by people who had been abroad. There have been no fatalities and no reported cases of direct transmission among Maltese residents.

Reporting by Christopher Scicluna, editing by Gavin Jones

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