- Vaccinated residents from 'dark red zone' can quarantine at home
- Russia and India could be removed from banned list
- Canada vaccine certificate recognised from Friday
- Entertainment venues can restrict entrance to fully vaccinated
Fully vaccinated residents of Malta arriving from the 'dark red' list of countries can quarantine at home from Friday under certain circumstances, Chris Fearne has confirmed.
He also announced that entertainment venues can choose to restrict entrance to fully vaccinated customers and enjoy a relaxation in social distancing measures if they do so.
Fearne said the new measures were part of Malta's "move towards normality" as 91 per cent of the population is now fully jabbed.
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The minister was speaking at a news conference on the launch of a new CT scan at the Sir Anthony mamo Oncology Centre.
There has been growing pressure over the strict protocols for travellers, including residents, arriving from the 'dark red' list of countries, who have had to pay up to €1,400 to quarantine at home.
Fearne said that anyone arriving from this list of countries who has a residency permit or an ID card can stay home to quarantine as long as their entire household is fully vaccinated.
However, hotel quarantine will still apply for households, where the person lives with more than four other people who did not travel.
The 'Mu' variant
The health minister also said that Malta is changing its criteria for the 'dark red' list of countries, which could mean both Russia and India will be removed from the zone.
A new list will be published soon and it will be focused on the new 'mu' variant, which was first detected in Colombia, rather than the Delta variant.
As is currently the case, people still need permission from the Superintendent of Public Health to travel to a 'dark red' country.
He refused to say whether the government would be issuing refunds to those who have already had to pay for quarantine despite having a residence in Malta.
"Just because we eased measures today it does not mean they were wrong in the beginning," he said. "Earlier in summer, it was necessary that we had stricter rules."
Venues for fully vaccinated
Fearne's second main measure was related to the catering industry.
He said restaurants and establishments who want to restrict entry to fully vaccinated customers can now opt to do so, and will "enjoy further easing of measures".
While he didn't give much detail, he said this might mean extending opening hours or allowing the distance between tables to be shorter.
Fearne said a number of countries have already experimented with similar measures and authorities would ensure that rules are enforced for those venues that opt in.
From 8am on Friday, Malta will accept Canada's vaccine certificate and is also working with EU colleagues to start accepting certificates from countries like Morocco, Israel, Andorra and Faroe Islands, he said.
Malta has previously rejected Canada's vaccine certificate because it is hard to verify.
Booster dose and flu vaccine
Fearne said that by the end of the week, every elderly person living in a residential facility will have been offered a booster dose.
The next cohort - the immunosuppressed - have all received an invite for their shot while the over 70s will be invited for the booster from September 27.
"We need the booster doses because the pandemic is not here for a year or two but one that could take years," he said.
Meanwhile the flu jab programme will begin from the middle of next month and 200,000 flu jabs have been ordered for adults while children will be offered a spray.