Maltese couple to sue government after being stranded abroad by COVID-19 rules

After sending a request for travel permission, the vetting team only sent an email with information about quarantine

Antea Camilleri (right) is one of many travellers who got caught up in the confusing rule changes on COVID-19 travel
Antea Camilleri (right) is one of many travellers who got caught up in the confusing rule changes on COVID-19 travel

A Maltese couple stranded abroad by Malta’s changing COVID-19 control requirements have taken the health authorities to court, seeking damages after the return leg of their journey was turned into a nightmare, forcing them to fly to England and stay with family after being refused entry to Malta.

This emerged from a judicial protest filed today against the Ministry of Health and the Superintendent of Public Health.

Antea Camilleri, Richard Mangion and Camilleri’s seven-year-old child had gone to Portugal on holiday, flying out on July 7. They had taken their PCR tests and submitted the negative results to the Portuguese authorities together with their passenger locator forms.

Whilst abroad, in preparation for their return to Malta, they submitted another PCR test which was also negative.

But on 12 July, whilst the couple were still abroad, Minister Chris Fearne announced new legal amendments under Legal Notice 301 of 2021, which prohibited persons’ entry into Malta without showing a vaccine certificate before boarding the aircraft.

This Legal Notice was subsequently amended to state that a negative result of a PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to their arrival would be sufficient.

In view of the amendments, the couple submitted to another PCR test before flying back to Malta.

But despite this, the couple were refused boarding, being told that they had to present a vaccination certificate instead of the PCR test.

After airline Ryanair spoke to the health authorities in Malta, the couple were informed that in order to be allowed on the flight they needed the express written consent of the Maltese health authorities. To this end they were directed to email [email protected].

This they did, but were forced to extend their stay in Portugal until the necessary reply was received. They decided to fly to the UK instead and stay with family there until the matter was sorted out.

And there they still are, as despite having sent the emailed request for permission to return to Malta, they said they only received an email with information about quarantine which, it is claimed, did not even satisfy the requirements stipulated in the Legal Notice.

The furious couple said that they had incurred pointless expenses as a result of the authorities’ actions and were – the child in particular - suffering from stress.

Two days ago, Camilleri spoke about her experience on Facebook and said that they must wait another week abroad before receiving a reply from the COVID vetting team.

To those who wonder why I have unexpectedly ended up in London from what had to be a relaxing family holiday in the...

Posted by Antea Camilleri on Tuesday, July 20, 2021

"We're living minute by minute not knowing what's going to happen with us and whether we would ever be allowed back into our country," she wrote.

The judicial protest, which reserves their right to institute proceedings for damages, was signed by lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Francesca Zarb.