The doctors' union has suspended planned strike action after a raft of new government rules were announced to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Medical Association of Malta said there was "no justification" for further industrial action after the new directives were "very close" to suggestions it had made.

Earlier its president Martin Balzan had warned the island could be plunged into a second partial lockdown if the measures are not properly enforced.   

"MAM will watch closely the implementation of these measures and reserves the right to react if enforcement is found wanting," he said.

"It is extremely important both for public health and the Economy that Covid numbers are brought down as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of a lockdown which would have graver consequences on the economy."

A new set of directives was issued by Health Minister Chris Fearne on Monday. They include a ban on gatherings of more than 15 people, a shutdown of bars and nightclubs and mandatory mask-wearing in all enclosed public spaces.

The union council will met on Monday afternoon to discuss the measures and whether to go ahead with threatened industrial action. 

Balzan said the enforcement of the COVID-19 restrictions ought to be carried out by the police to ensure the public adheres to them. There should also be no hint of any possible amnesty in the future. 

“Another partial lockdown would be catastrophic for the economy, so it is essential that we take these measures seriously and don't risk having further measures put in place,” he said. 

Health Minister Chris Fearne said he was pleased to see MAM had "endorsed" the directives. 

Malta was in a partial lockdown for three months from the end of March with non-essential businesses shuttered in a bid to stamp out the spread of the virus. The move hit local businesses hard, with the government moving to introduce wage subsidies to keep households afloat.   

The new measures which come into force later this week, follow successive record highs in new COVID cases in recent days.   

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