Travellers vaccinated with jabs approved by the World Health Organisation can now come to Malta without quarantining if they are also administered a booster dose of one of the four vaccines approved by the EU.
The change means some of those who have been unable to visit the island without undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine can now travel more freely.
The move marks a long-awaited shift that will mostly impact those who were vaccinated in non-EU countries and who did not receive jabs approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
But while the update will facilitate travel for these people, there are still several rules to follow before they are allowed to come to the island.
Firstly, those travelling to Malta must make sure their vaccine certificate is on the list of recognised documents. The authorities currently recognise the vaccine certificates issued by 34 countries.
Next, the traveller must also be sure the country of origin is not on the so-called dark red list since entry from these countries is only permitted for essential travel in exceptional circumstances and only with prior authorisation by the health authorities.
The WHO-approved vaccines are those by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Janssen, Covishield, Sinopharm, Sinovac and Bharat Biotech. Four of those vaccines – by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen – are also approved by the EMA.
So for a person to be allowed into Malta they must have received any of these vaccines but also a booster dose of either Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Janssen.
The health authorities restricted quarantine-free travel to Malta to the fully vaccinated in July after an increase in cases, mostly linked to travel.
Russian-made Sputnik still not accepted
Those who have received the Russian-made Sputnik vaccine will still not be able to travel to the island without quarantining, even with an approved booster shot.
A Maltese man living in Bahrain, who received two doses of Sputnik and a third of Pfizer, told Times of Malta he has not been allowed to enter without doing quarantine.
Paul Manduca said it had been more than two years since he met his parents, sisters and friends.
“It has been a difficult year. My mother-in-law passed away in Malta in April,” he said. “My wife and I wanted to visit Malta with our three kids but were unable to do so because of the quarantine restrictions. We attended the funeral virtually.”
Another Maltese citizen expressed frustration. “For how long will people who got the Sputnik vaccine, and are Maltese citizens, go through this hell,” Biljana Darmanin Popovac asked.
“We can’t see our families… we can’t do our business. And our mental health is taking a toll on all of us,” she said.
The WHO put the process of listing Sputnik for emergency use on hold in October pending some missing data and legal procedures.
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