While a vaccine certificate will help instil fresh confidence in people to travel, it cannot be the only criteria for one to be allowed to travel, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association said on Friday.

Malta is pushing for EU-wide cooperation on the issuing of a vaccination certificate for those who get the COVID-19 jab, with Health Minister Chris Fearne urging European counterparts to decide on the matter soon. 

The MHRA said in a statement that the reality of the vaccination situation in Malta is that the vulnerable and those over 65 will be vaccinated by May. This timeframe is even later in many other countries. 

Should a vaccine certificate be the only criteria to travel, it is likely that summer travel will be reserved to this group only. A vaccination certificate, the MHRA said, should not replace the negative COVID-19 test and the criteria for travel should be either a negative test or a vaccine passport. 

MHRA president Tony Zahra said the last 12 months have hit the tourism industry “even harder than a tsunami".

“The vaccine cannot arrive fast enough and whilst we had hoped that the rate of vaccination would be quicker, nevertheless we understand that there are manufacturing bottlenecks.  We are hoping that there will be more companies licensed to manufacture vaccines in which case the present estimates of people vaccinated per week can be improved. Until it does, we must enable safe travel through the requirement of a negative test or the said vaccine certificate.” 

He said that hospitality colleagues in Europe have been impressed with the way Malta has tackled this pandemic and there is general consensus that the country should be considered “a best practice example”.  

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