Coronavirus: Panic at Malta airport as travellers learn of new quarantine rules

Over 21 flights were due to land in Malta on Friday since Prime Minister Robert Abela announced that all travellers to Malta will be subjected to a 14-day mandatory quarantine

File photo
File photo

Panic has ensued at the Malta International Airport as travellers landing in Malta learn of the new mandatory quarantine rules introduced on Friday afternoon.

MaltaToday is informed that several travellers are being told of the 14-day mandatory quarantine rules and reacting with outrage, panic and tears. 

Earlier, MaltaToday was told that passengers on their way to Malta or planning to visit Malta in the coming days are being informed of the new measures introduced by the government today.

A Health Ministry spokesperson told this newspaper that international airports are receiving information on the new Maltese measures to curb the infection and this info is being announced at foreign airports. 

Incoming flights to Malta today
Incoming flights to Malta today

Airlines are also supposedly providing this information to their passengers, the spokesperson said. 

However, some passengers were unfortunately in transit or about to board a flight while the new measures were being relayed to the press and communicated to the airlines.

Over 21 flights were scheduled to land since Prime Minister Robert Abela announced the new measures. Over 15 more flights landed earlier in the day.

The measures include a mandatory 14-day quarantine to anyone travelling to Malta, irrespective of the country they're flying from. Anyone found in breach of said quarantine will be subjected to a €1,000 fine per day in breach.

Earlier, Abela told MaltaToday that the government is not planning to order a complete lockdown at this stage. "One calls for practicality at this stage, not extreme measures," he said.

Airlines that MaltaToday spoke to said that they are listing the new measures on their social media pages and on their websites. The Malta International Airport is also constantly updating its website and its FAQs page.

In the meantime, Air Malta has announced that it would be assisting the Maltese government by organising repatriation flights to bring home Maltese nationals and residents.

The airline is organising two repatriation flights from Madrid on Sunday 15 March. Spain is the worst-hit country after Italy, with over 1,100 cases registered today alone. This is in addition to previous repatriation flights announced earlier from Germany and France.

In a statement, Air Malta said: "Air Malta’s cockpit and cabin crew operating return flights do not need to observe [the mandatory] quarantine. This waiver of quarantine is given since the crew doesn't leave the aircraft at any time."