Malta bans visitors who are not fully vaccinated against Covid

Island nation will become first EU country to impose such restrictions on visitors

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 from Wednesday will ban all visitors from entering the country unless they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Friday.

"We will be the first EU country to do so, but we need to protect our society," Mr Fearne told a news conference.

He made the announcement after the small Mediterranean island saw a doubling of new cases of Covid-19 every day since Monday.

Currently, tourists can come to Malta if they are fully vaccinated or can produce a negative PCR test - the only exception being British tourists who already needed to be fully vaccinated due to the prevalence of the Delta variant in the UK.

Malta is a popular destination for travellers from the UAE looking to avoid having to quarantine on arrival in the UK. As the UAE is currently on the UK's red list, travellers have to spend 10 days in isolation in a hotel when they arrive in the UK.

From Wednesday, travellers looking to use this route to wait out the 11 days before travelling to the UK will now need to ensure they are fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

Mr Fearne said the recent spike in new cases had been among visitors who, while having produced a negative test before boarding the plane, were unvaccinated.

The majority of them were young people attending English-language schools. Such schools will be ordered closed from Wednesday.

The minister said Malta only recognised vaccination certificates issued by the EU and Britain.

The EU's so-called green certificate currently certifies people who are fully vaccinated, have test negative or have recovered from the virus.

"From Wednesday, we will only recognise that part of the EU certificate about people being fully vaccinated," he said.

The only exception will be unvaccinated children between the ages of five and 12, who will be allowed into Malta if they have a negative test and are accompanied by fully vaccinated parents.

Malta has fully vaccinated 79 per cent of its adult population and is looking to raise that figure to 85 per cent.

In June, the country had several days with no new Covid-19 cases, but numbers have risen sharply this week, hitting 96 on Friday. The positivity rate has risen to 1.18 per 100 tests.

Updated: July 9th 2021, 8:18 PM