Updated 7pm

Since Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that 118,000 people will go into lockdown on Saturday, Times of Malta has been inundated with questions from readers. 

We will continue adding questions and answers as they come in throughout the day. 

Q: Who needs to go into lockdown? 

Anyone over 65, pregnant women and all those who are insulin dependant, those on biological medication, those who were diagnosed with cancer in the past six months, those who had a transplant or HIV treatment, those who are on dialysis, those who have been treated for respiratory disease in the past year, those who had cardiac problems or were treated for cardiac conditions in the past six months, those who go to the heart failure clinic and those on oral steroids.

Vulnerable people who work in the health sector or have senior roles within essential sectors are exempt. 

Q: When?

The lockdown starts on Saturday. The exact time has not been specified.

Q: Will I be getting a letter to inform me?

If you are over 65,  you will not be getting a letter as you already know your age. All the others who qualify should be receiving the letter "in the coming days", according to the Health Minister. Those unsure whether they're to stay inside or not should always take an extra precaution and do so until their situation is clarified.

Q: What about those who live with vulnerable people?

The authorities said the only outings permitted are those related to medical appointments or treatment, to buy necessities, to go to work and to exercise child custody or visitation rights.

Q: I'm in lockdown and I need to go to hospital for an appointment. I have nobody to take me and I usually go by bus. Can I still do that? Can I get a taxi? If not, what do I do?

While public transport has not been affected by the measure against any gatherings of more than five - which came into force on Thursday - it remains unclear whether those under lockdown can actually hop on a bus to get to their appointments.

Q: I have been to a health care centre in the past year for treatment because of a respiratory condition. Do I have to go into lockdown?

We put the question to the health minister on Thursday and his reply was to wait for the letter that the government will be sending to all those affected. This also applies to other conditions that were not specifically mentioned by the authorities because they fall under one of the categories listed.

Q: Am I allowed to go for a short walk alone?

The authorities said the only outings permitted are those related to medical appointments or treatment, to buy food, medicine and other necessities, and to see to urgent personal issues. On Friday the authorities clarified that this includes going to work for a limited time, going to the bank, to exercise child custody or visitation rights and to feed animals that are not being kept at home.

Q: Can I go out to walk my dogs?

We’re still unsure about this one. In some other countries on lockdown, people are still allowed to walk their dogs once a day, as long as they avoid contact with others. 

Q: I am self-employed. Who will pay for my quarantine leave while on lockdown?

The prime minister confirmed last week that it will be the government which will pay this leave. 

Q: My partner is in hospital. I am over 65. Can I go visit?

This is another one that needs to be cleared up by the authorities though with the information available, it seems this won’t be allowed. 

Q: I am over 65 and have two daughters. Can I move in with one of them and then move in with the other after some days?

The authorities need to clarify this one.

Q: My wife and I are over 65 and have a helper who visits us each week to help us with some chores. Can the helper still come to the house?

This might no longer be possible since the authorities said anyone living with the people under lockdown should also put themselves in isolation. 

Q: I have farms and livestock and should be on lockdown. Can I go out to feed the animals?

If people have absolutely nobody to help out with feeding the animals, people will be allowed to leave the house to do so. They must observe social distancing and return home immediately after feeding their animals.

To be allowed to do this, one has to apply for special permission. A special board being set up for this purpose will evaluate every case individually and decide. 

You will be able to apply for special permission through an email address and phone number to be communicated later on Friday.  

Q: I live with an elderly relative and I absolutely cannot work remotely. What do I do?

Employers should allow you to telework wherever possible. If this is truly not an option, people who live with the elderly should continue to do so and they may leave home for work and to buy essentials.

Q: Can I go to the bank to cash my pension or do I need to share my bank details with a third party?

You will need to give your details to a trusted third party. The Central Bank issued a directive this week allowing third parties to deposit cheques for you.

Q: I am over 65 but still work. Can I be exempt from the lockdown? 

No.

Q: A nurse visits my home to administer treatment. Will this stop?

No. Essential visits by medical personnel will continue. Both the patients and the personnel must take ensure they take all the necessary precautions to avoid unnecessary contact. Patients are urged to have their medication prepared to ensure visit is as quick as possible.    

Q: Where can I get food from?

There are various options available. If family or friends cannot deliver goods (they can still do so as long as they too are not on lockdown), a number of shops are offering delivery services.

Alternatively, the government runs a delivery service to bring food and medicine to people forced into mandatory quarantine. You can call 21 411 411 for this service. 

Q: I'm feeling lonely. What do I do?

While the authorities have urged family and friends to keep in touch - via telephone, mobile phones and social media - some might feel they have nobody to turn to. For this reason, the government has a set up a new helpline for the lonely.

If you are feeling alone, isolated, or maybe you just need to share your emotions with someone else, you can now call 1772. The line will be manned 24/7.

It is the health authorities that have the final say on these matters and the answers provided here are merely guidelines obtained from available information. We will update you as they come in. 

 

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