Passengers will no longer be subject to COVID-related checks at the arrivals lounge from Monday, putting an end to long queues at the terminal.

Times of Malta is informed that the booths used for this purpose in the arrivals hall will be gone by Monday morning as the health authorities continue to ease pandemic-related restrictions.

The government had already announced that passengers will no longer need to wear masks in indoor public places or fill in passenger-locator forms.

Now, from Monday, their COVID passes will no longer be scanned as a matter of routine either.

The documents will only be checked at the gates before boarding flights to the island.

Those arriving in Malta might, from time to time, still be subject to random checks aimed at making sure they have the required documents.

The latest rules dictate that anyone flying to Malta must either present a vaccine certificate, a negative swab test result or a recovery certificate.

Meanwhile, according to government sources, the contracts of Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) officers tasked with scanning travellers’ COVID documents upon arrival expire at the end of May and will not be renewed.

“MTA staff have been assisting the Environmental Health Officers throughout the months of the pandemic when travel to Malta was subject to strict protocols and entry requirements,” a Tourism Ministry spokesperson said.

“Their assignment is determined by travel requirements as set by Superintendent of Public Health, which may change according to exigencies.”

The health authorities had faced widespread criticism over their decision to impose checks of travellers’ COVID-19 documents upon arrival even though airlines are forced by law to carry out such checks before boarding.

Complaints about long queues

Passengers have complained of long queues lining the arrivals hall and sometimes having to wait for hours.

Many travellers questioned this protocol, given their documents are also checked before boarding.

In March, head of civil aviation Charles Pace had flagged safety concerns over the long lines, saying that he was worried about queues “spreading out onto the apron”.

Airport CEO Alan Borg has also repeatedly called on the authorities to address the issue, saying the terminal did not have enough space for such checks, especially in busier months, and that it was keeping away tourists.

On Wednesday, the airport welcomed the removal of the passenger locator form and masks as “two important steps” towards resuming unrestricted travel to Malta.

Malta will be lifting most of its remaining COVID restrictions on Monday. For the first time since the pandemic hit, masks will no longer be mandatory in indoor public places while only those infected with the virus will be forced to quarantine.

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