The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health, Hon Chris Fearne has in the last few days been promoting in European Union circles, including EU Ministers of Health, European Centre for Disease Prevention and the European Medicines Agency, the possible introduction of a vaccine certificate which will ensure that people traveling from one country to another have been vaccinated before they travel.
While the MHRA acknowledges that the object of the exercise is to instil fresh confidence in people to travel, a Vaccine Certificate cannot be the only criteria to be allowed to travel. The reality of the vaccination situation is that, in Malta’s case, as Minister Fearne has recently stated, 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. It is the MHRA’s recommendation that the Vaccination Certificate should not replace the negative COVID test and the criteria for travel would be a negative COVID test OR a Vaccine Passport.
MHRA President Tony Zahra said “the last 12 months have hit the tourism industry even harder than a Tsunami. Indeed, it has felt like it was a never-ending 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.”
Zahra added “Our hospitality colleagues in Europe have been impressed with the way Malta has tackled this pandemic and there is general consensus that Malta should be considered as a best practice example in this Pandemic. MHRA recognizes the great teamwork that has produced this result particularly the Minister for Health and his staff, as well as MTA and other government entities which have contributed to the least possible damage in terms of health and the economy.”