A Maltese couple who were stranded abroad when Malta's travel rules changed this month have taken their grievances to court. 

Antea Camilleri travelled to Portugal earlier in July with her partner Richard Mangion and their seven-year-old son, after taking a necessary PCR test before departure. 

With negative test results in hand and after duly filling in and submitting passenger locator forms, the family set out on their holiday, including a stop in the Azores. 

As the trip neared its end, the couple once again underwent a PCR test, covering the costs out of their own pockets and subsequently travelled from the Azores back to Portugal, planning to catch their flight back home. 

But plans were disrupted when Health Minister Chris Fearne announced new COVID-19 measures whereby, as from July 14, passengers travelling to Malta had to produce a vaccine certificate prior to boarding. 

Health authorities made it clear that any unvaccinated Maltese resident already abroad at the time of the rule change could return with a negative PCR test without having to quarantine. 

Yet, although the couple and their son took the test and presented proof of a negative result, they were denied boarding unless they presented a vaccination certificate. 

After contacting local health authorities, the airline informed the family that express consent in writing was necessary. That consent could be obtained by sending an email on COVID19.vetting@gov.mt.

But although the couple promptly filed their request, while extending their stay in Portugal until the authorisation came through, the only email they received from the Maltese authorities contained information about quarantine rules. 

Meanwhile, the stranded family decided to travel to England to stay with relatives until their return home was greenlighted, bearing all expenses brought about by the unexpected twist of events. 

The family holiday had been transformed into a stressful experience, especially for the child, said the couple, in their judicial protest filed in the First Hall, Civil Court against the Health Ministry and the Superintendent of Public Health. 

While holding the authorities responsible in damages, the couple reserved the right to institute further legal action in this regard.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Francesca Zarb signed the judicial act. 

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