Emergency Measures

COVID-19 Emergency Measures in Malta

The Government of Malta has recently taken a number of steps aimed at mitigating the economic impact of COVID-19. The following is a summary of some of these measures based on information made publicly available as at noon, 16th March 2020.

 Legal Notices

1.1 Legal Notice 43 of 2020 (Running of times in the event of closure of Government Departments)

Legal Notice 43 of 2020 published on 12th March 2020, provides that when and if the Superintendent of Public Health orders the closure of government departments, such order shall suspend the running of:

  • all the legal terms imposed on a notary public by law to register any deed, will, act or private writing; or
  • any period within which the notary public, in terms of any applicable law, has to pay taxes collected by him in the exercise of his profession; or
  • any term related to fiscal benefits, incentives or exemptions; or
  •  any period within which a notary public is to submit any information or documentation to any authority or regulator pursuant to relevant notarial activity.

Moreover, any expiration term of any promise of sale agreement duly registered in terms of law with the Commissioner of Revenue within the period established by law shall also be suspended whilst the order for closure is in force. 

The suspension shall last until 45 days following the lifting of the repeal of any such order by the Superintendent. This Legal Notice must be read in conjunction with Legal Notice 64 of 2020 (published on 13th March 2020) providing that, if the last day of any legal term expires during the first 5 days immediately following the lifting of the repeal of any such order by the Superintendent, the running of the legal terms shall be deemed to be suspended for a period of 20 days from the lifting of the repeal of any such order by the Superintendent.

1.2 Legal Notice 61 of 2020 (Subject to Order, Suspension of running of any legal and judicial times and of any other time limits)

Legal Notice 61 of 2020 published on 13th March 2020 provides that upon the issue of an order by the Superintendent of Public Health of the Courts, the running of any legal and judicial times and of any other time limits, including peremptory periods applicable to proceedings or other procedures before the said courts shall be suspended. The suspension would last until 7 days following the lifting of the repeal of any such order by the Superintendent.

1.3 Legal Notice 62 of 2020 (Quarantine Leave)

Legal Notice 62 published on 13th March 2020, amends the Minimum Special Leave Entitlement Regulations, (S.L. 452.101) introducing the concept of quarantine leave. The term ‘quarantine leave’ is defined as meaning the leave to be granted to the employee without the loss of wages in such cases where the employee is legally obliged to abide by a quarantine order confining the employee to a certain area or to certain premises as determined by the Superintendent of Public Health under the Public Health Act or by any public authority under any other law. 

1.4 Legal Notice 63 of 2020 (Obligation of Quarantine, persons arriving from any country)

Legal Notice 63 published on 13th March 2020 provides that any person arriving in Malta from any country must submit himself to a 14-day period of quarantine immediately upon his arrival in Malta. This obligation to quarantine applies equally to persons who live in the same residence as the person arriving in Malta from outside of Malta.

1.5 Legal Notice 65 of 2020 (Closure of Courts and suspension of running of legal and judicial times)

Legal Notice 65 of 2020, published on 13th March 2020 ordered the closure of the Courts of Justice and the registry with effect from 16th March 2020. This order will remain in force until it is revoked by the Superintendent and applies to:

  • any court, including the superior and inferior courts, appellate courts irrespective of their competence or jurisdiction;
  • any tribunal established by law;
  • any boards, commissions, committees or other entities before which any proceedings are heard or procedures undertaken which are subject to legal or administrative time limits for filing any claims, defences or other acts; and
  • the registry of any of the above.

 

 Administrative Notices

2.1 Malta Enterprise Incentives (Postponement of Payment of Taxes/ Cash Grants)

On 15 March 2020, Malta Enterprise (ME) announced the issue of two incentives to help businesses by minimising any disruption that may be caused by COVID-19.  

Both incentives are being administered by Malta Enterprise. Application and requests for information should be addressed to covid@maltaenterprise.com or by calling 144.

2.1.1 Postponement of payment of certain taxes

The first incentive included in ME’s announcement comprises the postponement of payment of certain taxes. Enterprises, including self-employed persons operating in certain industries, will be provided with a two-month extension for the payment of provisional taxes, VAT, social security contributions on salaries and taxes owed till the end of April. The incentive is primarily aimed but is not exclusive to, the tourism and hospitality, entertainment, transport and manufacturing sectors affected by COVID-19. The announcement explains that irrespective of the postponement in payment, tax forms should be submitted according to normal deadlines.  Further details regarding applications and guidelines are yet to be made available.

2.1.2 Cash grant for the facilitation of teleworking activities

The second incentive included in ME’s announcement supports employers and the self-employed to invest in technology that enables teleworking by partially covering the cost of teleworking solutions. ME have issued Guidelines ‘Call for the Facilitation of Teleworking Activities’ in relation to this incentive. These Guidelines provide that support will be granted by way of a cash grant and is limited to up to €500 per teleworking agreement and €4,000 per undertaking. The cash grant shall be awarded against 45% of the eligible cost incurred between 1st March and 30th March 2020. For this purpose, the eligible costs comprise the following:

  • Cost of purchasing and/or leasing of computer hardware (including operating systems) which are considered portable including installation and setting up of connectivity software;
  • Cost of communication solutions (hardware and software) that allows different users to connect to their place of work (VPN, point-to-point connection, etc.)

The scheme is open to all undertakings irrespective of size and sector. The incentive comprises de minimis State Aid in line with Commission Regulation (EU) 1407/2013 and is subject to its limitations. The total support under this call shall be capped at €2 million. This support is being granted in terms of the Business Development and Continuity Scheme.

2.2  Malta Business Registry

Malta Business Registry (MBR) has advised that most of its staff will be working remotely and its offices will be closed to the public until further notice. Services during this period will be provided through the following methods:

  • Registration of documents through online services through MBR’s website; https://registry.mbr.mt/ROC/;
  • Ordering of certificates or documents through email orders.mbr@mbr.mt and returned by post;
  •  Payments of penalties and fees through bank transfer
    •    BOV account with IBAN: MT09VALL22013000000040025310447 or
    •    HSBC account with IBAN: MT91MMEB44026000000002173649001;
  • Paper format documents may be left in an envelope and delivered in a dedicated letterbox at the entrance of MBR’s premises.  Processing of such documents will start 2 working days from delivery to minimise any health risks for our employees;
  • Documents addressed to the ICTU are to be delivered in the dedicated letterbox clearly indicating that these relate to share transfers. The share transfer documents will be processed and the necessary documentation will be forwarded to the MBR;
  • Meetings will be held through teleconferencing only.

2.3 Identity Malta

Identity Malta has implemented several procedures aimed at curbing the dissemination of contagious diseases. In terms of the published notification:

  • The Expatriates’ customer desk shall not engage in direct contact with the public and those who will still turn up in person will not be assisted. However, the Expatriates’ customer care service will not be suspended, and the public can forward their queries to eresidence.ima@gov.mt or call +356 2590 4800. Applicants who are required to extend their interim permit should not call in person at the Expatriates Unit but are instructed to submit a request for an extension on eresidence.ima@gov.mt and ask for a confirmation via email.
  • Third country workers whose residence permit expires between 13th March and 31st March 2020 shall make the necessary arrangements with their employer to submit their application through Identity Malta’s online platform.  Identity Malta will only accept the submission of an application in person in those instances where it is not possible to make use of the online application platform.
  • Third-country applicants and employers must use Identity Malta’s online application platform to submit new applications. Identity Malta will only accept the submission of an application in person only in those instances where:
    • It is not possible to use the online application platform; and
    • The applicant did not arrive in Malta from abroad in the last 14 days preceding the date of entry in the country.
  • Third-country nationals who are physically present in Malta and had been issued with an approval in principle must submit their application for a residence permit not before 14 days from the date of entry in the country.
  • Identity Malta will not be issuing new decisions with respect to applications submitted by applicants who are not in the Maltese territory. The Agency will be informing the public when this service will resume back to normal.
  • Third-country nationals who intend to apply for a visa or residence permit for purposes other than work and enter/ed the Schengen territory between 1st March 2020 and 31st March 2020 should not visit Identity Malta’s premises before the 1st April 2020 or before 14 days from the date of entry in Malta [third-country nationals arriving in Malta on the 31st March should not visit Identity Malta’s premises before the 15th April 2020].
  • Third-country nationals who are/were authorised to stay in Malta at any point in time during March 2020 will be allowed to submit an application for a visa or residence permit after 1st April 2020.
  • Other third-country nationals who do not intend to apply for a visa or residence permit must leave the Maltese territory immediately upon the expiry of their authorisation to stay.
  • EU nationals and their family members do not require to be in possession of a residence card for a period of 3 months from the date of entry in Malta. Only those EU nationals and their family members who plan to reside in Malta for a period exceeding 3 months are expected to apply for a residence document.
  • Those EU nationals and their family members who enter/ed Malta from abroad between 1st March and 31st March should not visit Identity Malta’s premises before 1st April 2020 or before 14 days from the date of entry in Malta
  • EU nationals and their family members arriving in Malta on the 31st March may submit their application for a residence document from the 15th April 2020 onwards.
  • EU nationals and their family members may apply to renew their residence document if they did not enter Malta from abroad in the 14 days preceding the date they visit Identity Malta’s offices to submit their application. EU citizens and their family members are allowed to renew their residence document even if they do not submit the application before the expiry date of their current document.
  • The directives applicable to EU citizens and their family members are also applicable to United Kingdom (UK) nationals residing in Malta and other citizens of the UK who are residing in Malta and have not applied for a residence document yet.