Malta lifts ban on unvaccinated travellers

The country will now allow those unvaccinated to enter a period of quarantine

VALLETTA, MALTA - MARCH 30:  A statue of Jean Parisot de Valette, Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of Malta, stands on March 30, 2017 in Valletta, Malta. Valletta, a fortfied town that dates back to the 16th century, is the capital of Malta and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the last 2,000 years Malta has been under Roman, Muslim, Norman, Knights of Malta, French and British rule before it became independent in 1964. Today Malta remains a crossroads of cultures and is a popular tourist destination.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Malta reversed plans to introduce a ban on unvaccinated travellers just hours before it was due to come into effect on Wednesday, and those without coronavirus shots are now able to enter quarantine.

"Persons who arrive to Malta from any of the countries listed ... without being in possession of a vaccination certificate shall be required to submit themselves to a period of quarantine," the government said late on Tuesday.

The length of the quarantine period was not immediately clear, although Malta had already imposed a requirement for those arriving from certain "red" countries to spend 14 days in isolation.

The Mediterranean island nation last week said it would become the first European country to impose a ban on unvaccinated travellers after a surge in Covid-19 cases.

But that drew criticism from the European Commission, because it could undermine an EU-wide travel certificate that shows whether someone is vaccinated, has recovered from coronavirus or has recently tested negative.

Health Minister Chris Fearne had appeared to shut the door completely on US tourists and others, saying last Friday that only a Maltese, British or European vaccination certificate would be valid for entry.

However, many more countries are included in the new notice, which comes into effect on Wednesday, including most of the US, Japan and others.

Unvaccinated Maltese residents who found themselves outside the country when the rules changed can show a negative PCR test result, as long as the nation from which they travel is on the approved list.

Updated: July 13th 2021, 8:58 PM