Mandatory hotel quarantine for returning Maltese residents challenged in court

A judicial protest was filed after three Maltese residents had to pay €1,400 for their hotel quarantine experience

The Corinthia Marina Hotel in St George's Bay is one of the COVID hotels being used to quarantine travellers
The Corinthia Marina Hotel in St George's Bay is one of the COVID hotels being used to quarantine travellers

A judicial protest has been filed against the Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci over what was described as her ‘unilateral’ decision to impose hotel quarantine on arrivals from 'dark red' countries and charge €1400 for substandard hotel services. 

The protest was filed earlier today on behalf of three Maltese residents, who own a property in Malta, after having arrived from Tunisia. The plaintiffs state that on arrival at the airport, they were escorted by police officers and taken to the Corinthia Marina hotel against their will. 

They had explained to the authorities that they owned property in Malta and offered to bind themselves to observe the 14-day quarantine at home. However this request was denied and they were asked to pay €1,400 for what they termed their ‘illegal detention’ at the hotel. 

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The protest states that the hotel is constantly monitored by the police who were “everywhere,” who were also not allowing them to leave their room or even to stroll in the corridor and stretch their legs.

The protestants argued that the Superintendent of Public Health was breaching their Human Rights, namely the protection of the right to life, the protection from arbitrary arrest or detention, the protection from inhuman treatment and the protection of freedom of movement. 

Lawyer Andre Borg, on behalf of the complainants, stated that in view of the fact that there is no Declaration of Public Health Emergency in place, and that as Malta prides itself of having successfully implemented a vaccination programme with over 90% of the eligible population vaccinated, the imposition of hotel-room quarantine is excessive under the present circumstances. 

Malta was the only EU State imposing this form of quarantine, apart from Ireland which imposes it on arrivals from South America without an EU vaccine certificate, said the lawyer, arguing that Malta imposing such draconian restrictions even on its own returning residents and citizens who own a property of their own was excessive.

Borg argued that there was no sense of proportionality between the need to protect society from the spread of the virus, which it was managing to contain, and detaining people unlawfully, curtailing their freedom of movement and depriving them from accessing their own property. 

The lawyer added that whereas the Superintendent of Public Health was supposed to protect the public health, her actions were paradoxically deteriorating public health by causing an increase in mental health problems.

The lawyer also challenged the imposition of a €1400 fee for a detention imposed by the State. The onerous charge did not justify the poor service received by the plaintiffs, who said that not even housekeeping or changing of towels or linen was being provided, he said.

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