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Malta's health minister heading for Mater Dei hospital, Source: Chris Fearne on Facebook

Malta eases 'dark red’ quarantine rules

Malta eases 'dark red’ quarantine rules

Entertainment venues can choose to admit only fully jabbed persons

From today, fully vaccinated residents of Malta arriving from countries on the 'dark red' list can quarantine at home under certain conditions. Also, entertainment venues could choose to limit entry to fully vaccinated clients, which would entail some advantages for their owners.

Move towards normality

The relaxation of restrictions was announced on Wednesday by Deputy PM and Minister of Health Chris Fearne who launched a new CT scan at the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre. Fearne, quoted by local media, said the new measures were part of Malta's "move towards normality" thanks to 91 per cent of the population having received full vaccination coverage.

Quarantine rules eased

The relaxation of quarantine rules comes amid growing public pressure over the strict protocols for arrivals from the 'dark red' list of countries, including residents, who have been ordered to quarantine at a government approved hotel at their own expense, coughing up as much as EUR 1,400.

The Minister said that now any fully vaccinated native or permanent resident arriving from this list of countries can self-isolate at home provided that the household has less than five fully vaccinated members. However, hotel quarantine will still apply to larger households, irrespective of their vaccination status.  

Changing focus to the 'Mu' variant

Fearne also said that Malta is changing its dark-red list inclusion criteria, which could see Russia and India removed from the danger zone in the list’s next update. The health minister explained this saying that Malta is now focused on stopping the new Mu variant (originally detected in Colombia) from entering the country, as the Delta variant has already swept over the world. 

Currently, people need permission from the Superintendent of Public Health to travel to a 'dark red' country and this condition is expected to remain in place. Fearne refused to answer questions about whether the government would refund those residents who have already paid for quarantine.

Entry to the fully vaccinated only

Regarding the new measures for the catering industry, the minister said restaurants and establishments who want to admit only fully jabbed clients can now opt to do so, and will "enjoy further easing of measures". Without going into details, he hinted that this could mean extending opening hours or narrowing the distance between tables. Fearne said that similar measures have been experimented with in other countries and the authorities help with their enforcement.  

Canada vaccine certificates accepted

From this Friday, Malta will accept Canada's vaccine certificate, Fearne said. The government is also working with EU colleagues to start accepting certificates from Morocco, Israel, Andorra and Faroe Islands. Malta has previously rejected Canada's vaccine certificate because its verification is cumbersome.  

Booster dose to elderly home residents

Fearne said that by the end of this week, every elderly person living in a care home in Malta and Gozo will be offered a booster shot. The immunosuppressed have already been invited for their additional dose. Those aged 70 and over will start receiving invites for the booster from 27 September.

Promoting the need for a booster dose, Fearne said that the pandemic could take years.

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