Chamber wants Malta to ditch ‘draconian’ quarantine for COVID dark-red list

Business hampered by restrictions on third countries: ‘You’re no longer required to quarantine for a positive case in your household, but you must if you return from most third countries even if you are vaccinated’

The Chamber of Commerce has called for a lifting of travel restrictions for third countries, complaining that Malta continues to uphold a long dark-red list and “draconian” quarantines to arrivals even if travellers are vaccinated.

The Chamber said this made it impossible for business-related travel to and from third countries to resume.

“It is placing local businesses who have contractual obligations or potential new business in third countries at a disadvantage compared to their EU counterparts,” said Liz Barbaro Sant, chairperson of TradeMalta, a public-private partnership between the Chamber and the Maltese government tasked with facilitating business in third countries.

“It sends the message that Malta is not open for business, and that Maltese businesses are reluctant to service their customers in these countries, which is not the case. On both a commercial as well as a diplomatic level, this has become unsustainable and is drying up the pipeline of international business prospects for Maltese businesses.”

On 22 February, the Council of the EU adopted an updated recommendation on non-essential travel from third countries into the EU, stating that mmeber states should allow non-essential travel for persons vaccinated with an EU- or WHO-approved vaccine, recovered persons and all persons travelling from a country on the EU whitelist, while allowing for additional measures such as PCR testing before travel to be requested.

It also upholds that reciprocity should continue to be taken into account on a case-by-case basis and indicates that it is appropriate to start moving to an approach that is based purely on the vaccination status of the traveller rather than on the country of origin. The Council recommendation is not legally binding, but most EU countries have adopted it.

Malta Chamber President Marisa Xuereb said there are significant business interests in third countries that are being put at risk by quarantines that are incongruent with the approach adopted in Malta.

“You are no longer required to quarantine if you have a positive case within your household, but you need to quarantine if you return from most third countries even if you are vaccinated. An urgent review of these rules is required to allow businesses to resume their international activities without further delay. The smallest country in the EU cannot be the slowest to take-off.”