Hotelliers have agreed to offer free stays to those fleeing war-torn Ukraine and who must isolate upon their arrival in Malta.

The offer comes after the tourism authorities said they would not waive €100 daily quarantine hotel fees for Ukrainians. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) said it was coordinating its hotel members to offer free accommodation for Ukrainian asylum seekers for the duration of their quarantine period.

Ukraine is currently on the so-called dark red COVID-19 travel list, which means travel to and from the country is banned and only those given special permission by the health authorities can travel.

The government dropped that travel ban on Tuesday, to ensure Ukrainian asylum seekers can reach Malta, but said a mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement would remain in place. 

Those who have no place to isolate must stay at one of the country's quarantine hotels, at a cost of €100 per night, after the Malta Tourism Authority said it would not be waiving any fees. 

After Health Minister Chris Fearne skirted the issue, Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo said his ministry could cover fees in such cases. He did not provide any additional details on how this would work. 

Meanwhile, MHRA said it would also offer support to Ukrainian asylum seekers to help them find jobs across the hospitality sector.

”Our initiative is a demonstration of solidarity and a clear message that peace should prevail as soon as possible for the real best interests of all humanity," MHRA president Tony Zahra said.   

“We share the sorrow at the lives lost and the damage being caused in Ukraine. In the same way that Maltese hoteliers provided beds to emergency and frontline workers during the pandemic, the hospitality sector is now ready and willing to provide support and show solidarity with Ukrainian refugees.”  

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to thousands of refugees fleeing the country. Malta is expected to provide assistance to cancer patients who cannot continue their treatment back home because of the ongoing invasion. 

On Wednesday, the European Commission said it was proposing to activate a temporary directive that would allow people fleeing the war to get a temporary residence and work permit in the EU. 

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