President Higgins postpones State visit to Malta

President Michael D. Higgins has postponed his planned State Visit to Malta next week amid rising concerns about Covid-19 and the the strengthened measures announced to combat the spread of infections.

In a statement released today President Higgins said:

“In light of recent developments and new concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with regret that I have made the decision to postpone the State Visit which I was due to undertake to Malta next week. I deeply appreciate the invitation which had been extended to myself and Sabina by President George Vella and his wife Miriam and I greatly value the long established friendships between our two countries.

"Taking into account the strengthened domestic measures which the Government has introduced this week to combat COVID-19, following updated WHO and EU guidance and that of its medical advisers, I have concluded that it would be prudent to postpone our visit.

"In doing so, I will be joining the Irish people in doing all that we can to collectively combat the spread of the virus.

"While I am postponing my visit, I would like to recognise the excellent management of the pandemic in Malta and I look forward to a rearranged visit in due course. President Vella and myself will then have an opportunity to engage on important topics of shared interest including the future of Europe, climate change, the equitable rollout of vaccines globally, and the potential for a common European approach to migration.”

Today, the National Public Health Emergency (NPHET) advised the Government that concerts and indoor events should operate at 50% capacity over the coming weeks.

It's believed the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, has advised that restrictions on indoor hospitality should be brought back to where they were before 22 October.

This would likely mean a closing time of 11.30pm and no bar service, or mingling between tables.

It is also believed that concern has led NPHET to consider recommending the reduction of socialising in the run-up to Christmas - including limiting household gatherings to the host family plus three other households.