Almost one third of those travelling to Malta do not present a negative COVID-19 certificate despite this being mandatory, Times of Malta has learnt.

All countries are on the so-called Amber List, meaning travellers must produce a negative swab test taken up to 72 hours before travel. But despite this being mandatory, about 30 per cent of travellers come to the island without the negative swab test result. These travellers are then tested upon arrival. The test is carried out by healthcare workers at ports for free.

Sources at the airport have claimed that more incoming passengers were turning up without the certificate, knowing they would be offered the test for free upon arrival.

Some other countries are forcing travellers to cover costs of tests themselves.

Asked about this, public health chief Charmaine Gauci said the majority of travellers were coming to Malta with a certificate in hand.

On whether the authorities were considering introducing fees to cover tests for those arriving to the island without one, Gauci said this was not something being considered.

“We still offer this test free of charge because we still want to make sure people are being tested here in Malta,” she said.

“This is very important as it helps us keep things under control as much as possible.”

Gauci said that, moving forward, the EU was hoping to shift its focus to vaccine certificates so that travellers are encouraged to get the jab.

“As already announced, Malta is part of discussions on this at EU level,” she noted.

Health Minister Chris Fearne announced on Sunday that, in the coming weeks, all those travelling to the island will be required to provide either an approved vaccine certificate or a negative test result before boarding Malta-bound planes or ships.

The practice of allowing travellers to board commercial flights and then subject them to swabbing on arrival had come under fire from doctors, who said they feared the procedure risked more positive cases being imported, especially as tourism picks up in the summer months.

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