Hotelier accuses State of creating ‘illusion’ of pandemic crisis, files damages claim

Hotel owner Michael Zammit Tabona files constitutional proceedings against Superintendent of Public Health, claiming quarantine requirement for Maltese residents who did not take the booster dose breaches his fundamental rights 

Hotel owner Michael Zammit Tabona has filed constitutional proceedings against the Superintendent of Public Health, claiming that the quarantine requirement upon returning from abroad for Maltese residents who have not taken a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine breaches his fundamental rights.

The hotelier accused the Superintendent and the State of having created an “illusion” of a national health crisis and having constantly “painted a very negative picture for the public.” Zammit Tabona argued that this picture was incorrect and not based on facts and science. 

In the application filed this morning before the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction, Zammit Tabona’s lawyers, Edric Micallef Figallo and Keith Borg explain that the businessman had been administered two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine but has not taken a booster shot, which he claims is “scientifically useless” and “possibly dangerous.” The plaintiff adds the claim that laboratory tests had shown him to have a high level of immunity against COVID-19. 

In the case he filed against the Superintendent of Public Health, Charmaine Gauci, and State Advocate Chris Soler, Zammit Tabona said that the anti-covid measures governing travel were seriously affecting his work which involved a lot of overseas travel. 

The hotelier had sent a letter to Gauci in January, attaching results of laboratory tests conducted in November, December and January, which concluded that he had immunity against the virus. He argued that the booster was “scientifically useless” and “possibly dangerous in his case.” 

As no reply was received, he had sent a reminder on 9 February, but this, too, went unanswered, despite him receiving confirmation of its delivery. A third letter, sent on 3 March, upon his return to Malta, was also ignored after he was placed in quarantine.

The businessman’s lawyers argue that the requirement for COVID-19 certification and quarantine restrictions are not based on science and breach his fundamental human rights. 

They argue that Malta’s rules, which maintain one of the strictest COVID-19 travel restriction regimes in Europe, are excessive, unreasonable, disproportionate and discriminatory. The subsidiary legislation implementing the measures had been introduced arbitrarily, without sufficient scientific justification, and based on “ulterior motives,” the lawyers said.

Un-boosted individuals were suffering unjust discrimination without a valid scientific basis, said the lawyers, arguing that the measures were also invalid.

Zammit Tabona called upon the court to declare the legislation and measures it implements as violating fundamental rights and therefore null and void. He also asks the court to award damages.