[WATCH] Masks no longer mandatory for those with a booster dose from Monday

Social distancing in restaurants and bars to end • spectators to return to sports • mask-wearing no longer necessary for those with third jab outside in groups of two or less

Health Minister Chris Fearne
Health Minister Chris Fearne


  • Spectators can return to sporting events with a valid vaccine certificate.
  • The two-metre rule will be relaxed for restaurants, snack bars, and similar establishments.
  • Mask wearing is no longer necessary for those who have received the booster jab from Monday in groups of two or less. 
  • Staff working at restaurants and other similar establishments who have direct contact with patrons must have a valid vaccine certificate. It is not required for those who do not have direct contact. 
  • Under 18s, pregnant women in their first trimester and those who have recently tested positive can still access restaurants and similar establishments without providing a booster vaccine certificate. 
  • People who could not receive the vaccine for medical reasons will be able to enter such establishments without the vaccine certificate.
  • Those who have been abroad and who have not had the booster will have a grace period until 1 February.
  • The quarantine period will be removed from 1 February for those travelling to Malta specifically to receive their booster dose.

Anyone who has received the COVID-19 booster will no longer need to wear a mask while outdoors from Monday, as long as they are in groups of two persons or less, Health Minister Chris Fearne has announced.

Fearne was speaking during a press conference inaugurating a new geriatric care centre at Saint Vincent De Paul Residence.

From Monday, only fully vaccinated people will be allowed to access restaurants, cafes, gyms and other public places.

The vaccine will be mandatory for staff working in the hospitality sector who have direct contact with clients. Fearne said that there will be a grace period until February for staff who have not yet received their booster dose.

He said that there were no plans to make a certificate mandatory in other sectors or to introduce a mandatory vaccination. He made clear that there were no plans to make it mandatory in the health sector.  

"To protect our people, we want to have the booster," he said.

The health minister said that measures are being lifted because 70% of the population will have received the COVID-19 booster by the end of the week.

Social distancing in restaurants, bars and other establishments will also be able to return to pre-pandemic levels from Monday due to the COVID-19 certificate being mandatory. 

Spectators will also be allowed to return to sporting events if they have a valid COVID-19 certificate. 

Fearne said that Malta is not the only country to put these measures into force, citing that Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Austria, Portugal, Denmark, Ireland, Estonia have also put into place similar measures. 

Fearne added that countries like the Netherlands have had to go into lockdown and shut down non-essential shops; however, there was no need for this in Malta because of the booster. 

The vaccine certificate will also be valid for three months from the second dose, or nine months from the booster, with the exemption for people who have recently recovered from COVID-19 and have been unable to get the third jab.

Omicron is the dominant variant 

The health minister said that the Omicron variant, which was first found in South Africa, is now the dominant variant in Malta, overtaking the Delta variant, which was first found in India. 

"Nine out of ten cases in Malta are the Omicron variant," Fearne said.

On COVID patients in hospital, Fearne said that a number of them had no vaccine, some had both, and some also had the booster. 

"Some people still die of COVID even though they had the full schedule, but we are sure that without a vaccine, the number of deaths would be much higher," Fearne said. 

The health minister said he might consider revising the current quarantine rules if immunity in the community increases. "Now is not the time to do that," he said.

Fearne appealed to the general public to get the booster dose, "science is not a popularity contest," he said. Fearne added that the booster side effects were minimal, and whoever thinks the side effects are worse than the virus is wrong.