PN wants mandatory COVID vaccine pass rules scrapped

From 17 January the COVID-19 vaccine certificate is needed to enter a range of establishments, but the PN wants these rules scrapped 

Opposition leader Bernard Grech
Opposition leader Bernard Grech

The Nationalist Party has called on government to scrap coronavirus measures making certain establishments accessible only to people with a valid vaccine certificate.

As from the 17 January, bars, snack bars, gyms, pools and spas, band clubs, cinemas, theatres and sporting events will only be accessible to people with a valid vaccine certificate.

“Given that two-thirds of the country have already taken the booster while the less virulent Omicron has become the dominant strain in Malta, the PN believes the measures no longer strike the right balance between public health and people’s freedoms,” the PN said.

It said that while the Opposition supports the health advice to take the vaccine and the booster for both personal and public safety reasons, it also believes in the rights of people to take their own decision, especially in the changing context of the pandemic.

“Those who are sceptical of the booster are more likely to be convinced by medical advice from a trusted doctor than by being checkmated by the government,” it said.

The party also cited the added burden on employers.

“PN notes that the measures, which many view as excessive and discriminatory, will also add another burden on employers who are already facing huge difficulties with labour supply, increased costs and added bureaucracy,” it said.

The PN said the measures also create unnecessary difficulties for those who did not yet receive an invitation to take the booster, such as 15 to 18-year-olds or people who had COVID-19 or were stuck in quarantine and could not get the booster in time.

“PN believes that even if the government plans to retain these measures, it must be much more transparent in the science on which it is basing these decisions and explain why Malta has gone further than most countries even in terms of the duration permitted between vaccine and booster,” the statement read.

The party also reiterated calls for self-testing kits to be made legal.

Meanwhile, replying to a parliamentary question, Health Minister Chris Fearne said standards on a temporary exemption on the new measures for those who test positive for COVID-19 will be issued later this week.

Labour Party calls out 'Bernard Grech's contradictions'

The Labour Party has slammed the PN’s statement, saying it is “proof of how Bernard Grech is playing partisan political games with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“What he says today, can change the next day and it cannot be believed,” he said.

It called on government to continue engaging with social partners, and when necessary, address genuine issues. “The government has always shown that it has never been in favour of unnecessary restrictions.”