The ban on flights in and out of Malta has once again been extended, and will remain in place until at least June 15. 

A notice to airmen (NOTAM) published Saturday extends the travel ban first introduced on March 21 until the middle of next month, exempting cargo flights, ferry flights, humanitarian flights, and repatriation flights. 

The notice states that the Superintendent for Public Health may issue further exemptions if "the travel of certain persons or goods is deemed to be essential". 

The flight ban was introduced in March in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, and was extended for a month from April 30. 

Tourism minister Julia Farrugia told Times of Malta on Saturday: "We are engaged in active discussions even on a European level. This week in my intervention during the tourism ministers meeting, I insisted on a common wide approach on safe protocols on a European level."

The tourism industry has increased its calls in recent days for the airport to be opened, warning of mass unemployment if the summer tourist season was curtailed altogether. 

While authorities have said there are no immediate plans to reopen the country's borders, the tourism minister has discussed establishing travel corridors at the appropriate time with nine countries including Luxembourg, Norway, Serbia and Slovakia.

Healthcare workers' representatives, however, have warned that allowing any form of tourism this summer could risk lives and undo the progress registered by restrictions over the last few months. 

The nurses' union said reopening too soon would be "purely a political measure from an economic perspective" and could put the healthcare system under unmanageable strain. 

The Medical Association of Malta said easing restrictions too quickly could further damage the tourist industry as an increase in cases would render the notion of safe corridors impossible. 

The number of active coronavirus cases in Malta has spiked in recent days, reaching 130 on Saturday, the highest recorded figure in weeks, albeit in the context of increased test figures. 

Several European countries have in recent days announced plans to reopen their borders: Italy is set to allow foreign visitors from June 3, with Cyprus follow on June 9 and Greece on June 15.

Cyprus has said that from June 20 people arriving from 13 countries, including Malta, will not need health checks, which will be required before then. 

Spain has also indicated it will be easing its travel ban around the end of June. 

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