Malta International Airport has once again urged health authorities to allow health documents to be digitally checked after video footage of hundreds of people crowded in airport arrivals areas prompted concern. 

Footage shared with Times of Malta showed long queues of people waiting to have their COVID-19 documents checked on Friday afternoon. 

Large groups of people also seen at baggage reclaim area

Another video showed large crowds gathering at the baggage reclaim area, where many travellers are seen waiting with their luggage in hand to be allowed to enter the arrivals hall.

The videos, which were also shared on social media, led people to express concern about overcrowding that was in clear violation of COVID-19 social distancing protocols.  

"L-aqwa fid-dinja,(the best in the world), number one, (...) we obviously jungle pile-up here. Welcome to the best place in Europe - Malta!", the man filming the situation can be heard commenting in the video. 

MIA blames lack of digital verification system 

In a statement reacting to the photos and videos of Friday's chaos, MIA said it deeply regretted the "inconvenience and anxiety" guests experienced as they arrived in Malta. 

"In light of this, MIA would like to once again call on the Superintendent of Public Health to digitalise the health document verification process completely without further delay. This afternoon’s queues at arrivals clearly show that the current paper based checks are clearly inadequate and untenable."

MIA also appealed for stronger legislation to enforce the use of digital health declarations and certificates by travellers, which would facilitate quicker health screening processes on arrival.

Malta's COVID-19 vaccine certificate system is still not ready to be connected to an EU-wide verification system and is currently listed as being in a "test phase". 

As a result, travellers cannot yet use their foreign-issued vaccine certificates to enter Malta and must instead present negative test results, which must be checked manually upon arrival. 

Long queues of arrivals waiting for documents to be checked on Friday afternoon

All travellers coming to Malta must carry a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or a negative result of a PCR test performed not longer than 72 hours before arrival in Malta. 

Friday's airport confusion is a repeat of a situation that manifested itself at the beginning of the month, when some 600 passengers had to wait in long queues before their documents could be checked.

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