• Four-household gathering rule scrapped from Monday;
  • Quarantine for fully jabbed contacts of COVID cases cut to seven days;
  • Quarantine for fully jabbed adult contacts cut to five days from Feb 21; 
  • Quarantine for fully jabbed travellers from dark-red list cut to 10 days;
  • Fully vaccinated children aged 5-11 no longer need PCR test to travel;
  • Guests at stand-up wedding events to increase to 300 by April

Restrictions on the number of people who can gather in private households will end on Monday, Chris Fearne announced as part of a 'road map' out of COVID-19 measures.

Quarantine periods for fully vaccinated primary contacts of COVID-19 cases will be reduced, the number of guests who can attend standing weddings will be increased and fully vaccinated children will no longer need PCR tests to travel.

The health minister said Malta plans to reduce the majority of restrictions by the beginning of summer. 

Friday's announcement comes ahead of a planned relaxation of the rules around vaccine certificates, which will no longer be required for entrance to restaurants, snackbars and social clubs from Monday.  

Watch the news conference below

As previously announced, from February 14, certificates will not be needed for entry to bars, gyms, spas, pools, cinemas and theatres but will continue to be needed for entry to mass events, sports events, gaming halls, night clubs and travel.

Fearne told reporters that 78% of the adult population has now received the booster dose, while 40% of children aged 5 to 11 have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

With fewer than 3,000 active COVID-19 cases in the community, and a stable situation at Mater Dei, Fearne said the 'exit roadmap' could continue.

"Our aim is, if things continue going well, at the end of spring or beginning of summer we will remove the majority of measures in place today," he said. 

Visiting hours at Mater Dei will be extended from Monday 7, with morning and afternoon visits allowed. 

Household gatherings

From Monday the restriction of the number of people that can gather at private residences will be lifted completely. 

Until now only four households have been allowed to gather in private residences and households. 

"This was important during Christmas time because we knew community transmission would be high," he said.

"Now that its over and numbers are down, this measure that no more than four households can gather will be relaxed completely."

Travel changes

All children between 5 and 11 with valid vaccine certificates will be able to travel without taking a PCR test, starting immediately. 

From Monday, Malta will recognise vaccine certificates from Jordan and the Maldives, meaning arrivals from these countries will not need to quarantine. 

From February 14, those people travelling with valid vaccine certificates from the list of dark red countries, will have their quarantine period decreased from 14 to 10 days. 

Maltese residents arriving from these countries can quarantine at their home and not in a quarantine hotel. This includes employees, who arrive in Malta with a work permit approval but are still awaiting their residence documents.

Quarantine changes

Fearne said he aimed to address quarantine periods by February 21. 

If the positivity rate from then continues to drop, primary contacts will only need to quarantine for five days, rather than seven, and then present a negative test.

"The next step will then be to end quarantine for primary contacts and then we’ll look at quarantine for actual positive cases," he said.

Children aged between five and 11, who are primary contacts, will have their quarantine period reduced to seven days as from today, Friday.

Wedding changes

Fearne said he would not provide planned dates for the reduction of other measures, except for weddings.

Currently wedding protocols allow seated weddings with up to 500 people with a valid vaccine certificate and social distancing, or up to 100 people in standing events.

From April 1, the number of people allowed at stand-up wedding events will increase to 300 people.

These numbers will continue to increase in May and June, he said. 

He said there were also plans to update burial restrictions and there would be an announcement in the days to come. 

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