Outdoor events can now be held with no COVID-19 restrictions whatsoever while capacity limits have been lifted for indoor standing ones. 

The removal of audience caps for standing events was first announced by Health Minister Chris Fearne in February and confirmed on Sunday, when health authorities released guidelines regulating them.

Outdoor events can now allow unrestricted entry and can be held with no COVID-19 restrictions whatsoever, although authorities continue to advise organisers to take preventative measures.

Indoor events, on the other hand, will require attendees aged 12 and older to present a valid vaccination certificate to enter. That certificate has to be one recognised by local authorities.

Attendees can expect to have their vaccine certificate QR code scanned at the event door.

The rules apply to all indoor events - from theatre performances to conferences, markets and fairs, weddings and sporting events.

They represent a dramatic shift in official guidance for events organisers, following months of COVID-enforced restrictions and limitations - though political rallies held during the electoral campaign were allowed to proceed despite being in evident breach of the rules. 

The revised rules are part of a broader government effort to move away from pandemic restrictions, with Prime Minister Robert Abela having signalled that he wants people to start making their own decisions about the virus and their safety. 

Malta announced it would ease entry rules for travellers last week and will allow children and teachers to take masks off in schools after April 13, although Church schools would like that delayed. 

According to the newly-released guidelines for events, locally-issued vaccine certificates are considered valid for three months after the first two doses, or for nine months after taking a booster dose, despite an EU recommendation to make certificates valid for nine months after the primary course of vaccination.

Foreign-issued certificates are valid for as long as the country that issued the certificate establishes.

Staff who are in direct contact with attendees must also have a valid vaccine certificate to enter the indoor venue.

The guidelines allow for some exceptions to the vaccine certificate requirement: staff who are not in contact with attendees are exempt, as are women with up to 16 weeks of pregnancy, provided they have received a primary course of vaccination and have a doctor’s note confirming their pregnancy dates.

People who cannot take a booster shot because they tested positive for COVID-19 within the past six weeks will need to present proof that they took their first course of vaccines as well as evidence of their positive test result.

Authorities are taking a dim view of claims of medical exemptions, and only people who suffered immediate severe anaphylaxis after taking a COVID-19 vaccine will be granted an exemption. People who qualify can e-mail covid19.health@gov.mt with ‘Exemption’ in the e-mail subject line.

Event organisers caught breaking these rules will be fined €500 per breach.

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