The Nationalist Party is opposing new rules that will only allow fully vaccinated people to access restaurants, cafes and other public places.

In a statement on Wednesday, the party said that the rules do not “strike the right balance between public health and people’s freedoms”, given that two-thirds of the adult population has already received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The party said it wants the measures scrapped. 

The new rules that come into force on Monday, January 17 will effectively make a vaccine booster mandatory for people who wish to live their life as normal.

As of that date, a valid vaccine certificate will be required to enter restaurants, cafes, theatres, gyms, sporting events and other such venues. Certificates will expire within three months of receiving a second vaccine dose or nine months from the date of a booster dose.

The PN had not previously taken a position on the rules, which follow similar decisions taken in European countries like France and Italy.

In its statement on Monday, it said that while it advised people to take the vaccine and booster for personal and public safety reasons, “the party also believes in the rights 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,” it said, adding that it believed people would make responsible choices if given the right information.

The January 17 rules are looked at with trepidation by the catering sector, which earlier on Wednesday said that restricting access to fully vaccinated staff and customers would be the “final nail in the coffin” for the restaurant sector.

They have also led to protests in Valletta, with demonstrators saying the rules are a form of “dictatorship”.

Others have expressed concern about being frozen out of public services through no fault of their own, as they are unable to receive a booster dose due to a recent COVID infection, or are not yet eligible for it. Currently, COVID-positive patients must wait for four weeks before receiving a booster dose.

The PN said that if the government did not back down from its plans and went ahead with the measure, “it must be much more transparent in the science on which it is basing these decisions and explain why Malta has gone further than most countries even in terms of the duration permitted between vaccine and booster.”

It also reiterated its call for COVID self-testing kits to be made legal and available, given the strain which public testing centres are currently under. Such kits are currently illegal, with health authorities saying they have no plans to legalise them.

Labour: Bernard Grech contradicting himself

In a reaction to the PN decision, the Labour Party said PN leader Bernard Grech was contradicting himself, having backed the regulations when they were issued.  

It showed that Grech was playing partisan politics over COVID-19, and lacked credibility, the PL said.    

  

 

 

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