Travellers arriving from 19 European countries and territories considered to be “safe” will not have to take COVID-19 swab tests or enter quarantine when they land in Malta from next month, the prime minister has said. 

The 19-strong “safe corridor” includes neighbouring Sicily and fellow Italian island Sardinia, but not mainland Italy or Malta’s strongest tourist market, the UK. 

Times of Malta had revealed 16 countries on the list earlier on Monday. Sicily, Sardinia and Latvia are the additions. 

Malta’s airport is scheduled to reopen to passenger flights on July 1, almost three months after it was shut as coronavirus infections spread in Malta. 

The “safe corridors” list will only apply to direct flights between areas deemed safe and to people who have spent the previous four weeks there. 

Malta was one of the early proponents of introducing 'safe corridors' for travel to resume. Earlier this month, the Tourism Ministry named nine countries it was considering for such a plan. Of those nine, just one - Serbia - is not on the list announced on Monday. 

Speaking on Monday evening, Prime Minister Robert Abela indicated that flights could also resume to countries not on the list of 19, saying travellers from other countries would have to spend time in mandatory quarantine. 

Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci reassured people that public health authorities would be keeping a close eye on arrivals and any potential problems. All passengers landing in Malta will have to fill in a passenger locator form to allow authorities to quickly trace them should they have to, she said. 

Public health authorities assessed coronavirus testing, prevalence and mortality rates when drawing up the list of 'safe corridor' destinations, Gauci said.

Airlines will also have to adhere to international guidelines on air travel and in-flight precautions introduced to limit the risk of virus transmission. 

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