UK Quarantine Restrictions Threaten Malta Film Industry Recovery

    Malta Malta credit: Malta Film Commission

    VALLETTA: Quarantine restrictions imposed by the UK on Malta, France, Spain and other countries across Europe are threatening to derail the recovery of Malta’s film industry, which has just begun to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Malta is expecting to see nine international productions shot on the island this year.

    According to John Hopkins University daily COVID-19 statistics Malta still has only 20 deaths per million and 3328 cases per million compared to the UK’s more than 600 deaths per million and more than 4700 cases per million of population. Nonetheless, rising R rates across Europe have prompted the UK, which is the most heavily COVID infected country in Europe, to impose a series of quarantines for people returning from designated countries.

    Malta is working hard to restore business confidence in the face of the pandemic, which had brought the global film industry to a grinding halt. Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli had previously been reported as saying that the authorities were expecting nine international productions to film on the island this year.

    "Starting with Jurassic World: Dominion, other multi-million projects will follow with huge investment in our economy, creating more jobs for anyone working in the film industry in Malta," she said in the local media.

    The Malta Producer’s Association (MPA) has recently stated that “although some have downsized their shooting in Malta, so far, to our knowledge, no production has pulled out due to the increased rate of COVID-19 cases in Malta.”

    Ever since opening its borders and lifting mitigation measures, Malta along with other countries across the EU that have lifted restrictions, has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases, with the R-factor said to be over 1. The UK restrictions have sparked rumours that the 200m EUR production Jurassic, currently shooting on locations in Malta, may have to reduce the scale of its Malta shoot. The film, which stars starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Neill, is based in Pinewood Studios in London.

    The 200 m EUR production was set to start filming key scenes, using principal actors, at the end of August 2020, with regular swab tests being organised for the more than 1,000 crew members and cast.

    In Malta, industry sources told local media that the number of shooting days has remained the same as originally planned, but this latest news is bound to be a big blow to the local servicing sector.