The COVID-19 certificate generator website has crashed as hundreds of people realised they need a certificate to be able to ditch their masks and travel abroad. 

Mask-wearing has been mandatory in public spaces everywhere since October, with hefty fines slapped on those who break the rules. But, as from Thursday, rules are being relaxed for fully vaccinated people in possession of a certificate.

A spokeswoman for the health ministry confirmed when contacted that the website was down due to heavy traffic and that its technical experts were scrambling to get it up and running as soon as possible. 

The vaccine generation website has encountered problems since its inception, with people finding it impossible to generate their certificate. 

Apart from the system glitch, many people are encountering difficulties to download their certificate. They are being asked to send an email with the requested information but sources said that the waiting list is “interminable” and not to expect results soon.

Failure to download the vaccine certificate – considered the passport to a new post-COVID life – has disrupted people’s travel plans.

Malta was due to integrate its system with the EU-wide one by Thursday.

According to the EU malta is now effectively connected, which means it can verify at least one 'European Union Digital Certificate' - ie vaccination, recovery or negative test. 

How does the EU system work?

Each member state issues their own certificate, with a common design, so that they can be recognised across the bloc.

According to the European Commission, it is made up of several components.

  • A QR code with a digital signature to protect it from falsifcation;
  • A code to allow the certificate to be scanned and verified;
  • A digital signature from the issuing body - such as the health authority - which is stored on a database in each country;

The European Commission says it has helped Member States to develop national software and apps to issue, store and verify certificates.

As recently as Wednesday, there were long queues at Malta International Airport with people spending over an hour waiting for their documents to be verified by health officials. 

In an interview with Times of Malta earlier this week, airport CEO Alan Borg, said it was "very important" the health authorities digitise the process to check documents or travellers would continue to face long delays. 

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