People who have recently recovered from COVID-19 and are waiting to get their booster will be granted a six-week exemption from the new vaccine certificate rules which come into force on Monday.

The exemption will be granted to anyone with a positive test result who is not yet eligible for the third shot, sources said.

It is among several measures expected to be announced on Thursday by Health Minister Chris Fearne, who is due to detail how the system will work.

From Monday, a vaccine certificate will be mandatory for entry into restaurants, bars and other venues as well as for travel into the country.

The certificate will only be considered valid for three months after the second dose of the vaccine or nine months from the booster dose.

For the thousands who were infected in recent weeks, the change could prove problematic since they must wait another four weeks from testing positive to be eligible for the booster.

On Wednesday, there were just over 13,000 known virus cases. Thousands more who have recently recovered are still waiting for the four weeks to pass.

Times of Malta is informed that Fearne will be announcing an exemption valid for six weeks, giving all these people time to get their next jab.

The government is also expected to outline which places will require a vaccine certificate and how it will all work starting next week.

It remains unclear, however, whether the decision to impose a three-month expiry date on the second vaccine dose will be revised.

Last week, the European Commission said this would breach its travel regulations, which lays down a nine-month expiry period. 

Malta International Airport (MIA) has said the rule discriminates against Maltese residents.

When it comes to Maltese residents who happen to be abroad, the rules will apply from February 1.

The new rules were announced before Christmas, when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was first detected in the country and COVID-19 case numbers reached record highs.

They are also aimed at encouraging the public to get their booster doses.

More than two-thirds of the country’s adult population have so far received their booster vaccine.

However, the PN on Wednesday called on the government to scrap the new measures, which it said effectively make the vaccine booster mandatory.

“Given that two-thirds of the country have already taken the booster while the less virulent Omicron has become the dominant strain in Malta, the PN believes the measures no longer strike the right balance between public health and people’s freedoms,” the party said.

It said it fully supports the health advice to take the vaccine and the booster but it believes in the right of people to take their own decision, especially in the changing context of the pandemic.

“Those who are sceptical of the booster are more likely to be convinced by medical advice from a trusted doctor than by being checkmated by the government.

“The PN is confident that, given the right information, people will be responsible in their choices and attitudes while being more respectful towards others, especially those who are vulnerable.”

It said that the measures, “which many view as excessive and discriminatory”, would also add another burden on employers already facing huge difficulties with labour supply, increased costs and added bureaucracy.

The Nationalist Party called on the government to be much more transparent in the science on which it is basing its decisions and explain why Malta has gone further than most countries even in terms of the duration permitted between vaccine and booster.



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