Maltese authorities will have to clarify their lately updated travel policy for its citizens who are vaccine certificate holders as the European Commission has addressed the modifications, which do not align with recently-adopted EU rules.
The Maltese Health Minister previously announced the new measure would enter force on January 17 and affect adults aged 18 and above who are holders of a vaccination certificate issued by the local authorities, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
According to these rules, the vaccination certificate for the primary schedule, including those with the first and second shot of vaccination (or those who received a single-shot vaccine), is valid for only three months after the final vaccination. In addition, for those with a booster shot, the validity of their vaccination certificate stretches out to nine months.
“We understand that Malta will be applying new measures as of January 17 regarding the validity of the vaccination certificate, and we are in touch with the Maltese authorities to seek clarifications,” a spokesperson for the European Commission told Lovin Malta.
Maltese residents returning to Malta after January 17 without a valid vaccine certificate will be eligible to adapt to new rules for a two-week grace period. However, from February 1 and onwards, such people will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
However, these rules do not comply with rules adopted by the European Commission, which approved an acceptance of nine months for all EU vaccine certificates, with the latter entering force on February 1.
Such rules aim to establish a coherent and harmonised approach to intra-EU travel, after the unorganized measures that member states applied during the COVID-19 pandemic put at risk the concept of freedom of movement, which characterizes the 27-nation-union.
“Under these new EU rules, member states must accept any vaccination certificate that has been issued less than nine months since the administration of the last dose of the primary vaccination. Member states cannot provide for a shorter nor for a longer acceptance period,” an EU Commission spokesperson noted.
However, according to local media, these stringent rules do not apply to EU citizens, which will be allowed to enter Malta without needing to quarantine so long as their EUDCC is valid in their home country. This means that Malta is imposing stricter entry rules for its own citizens rather than those coming from other countries.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the vaccination rates in Malta stand at 84.2 per cent for those partially vaccinated; those with two shots make up for 82.3 per cent of the population, and 44.6 per cent have received the third or booster shot.