Irish holidaymakers in Malta placed in compulsory quarantine after HSE vaccine certificates were not accepted
Updated 2 hours ago
A NUMBER OF Irish holidaymakers who have arrived in Malta are told they have to go through a mandatory quarantine due to entry requirements for the Mediterranean country.
It is understood that a number of people have been informed by Maltese authorities that their HSE vaccination certificates were not considered valid proof of their vaccination status upon arrival this week.
Malta, an EU member state, is part of the Covid Digital Certificate System (DCC), but those traveling there must be fully vaccinated to enter the country without having to quarantine.
Most countries, including Ireland, allow entry without quarantine into the country if passengers can prove that they are either fully vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months, or that they may produce a recent negative test.
Malta, however, has stricter entry rules and requires people to be fully vaccinated to avoid having to self-quarantine at a designated hotel.
While more than a million DCCs were sent to Ireland to fully vaccinated people, many did not receive them until yesterday’s return from non-essential travel.
Despite this, Minister of State Ossian Smyth reassured potential foreign travelers that they should not need a DCC to enter a country, as long as they can prove their vaccination status.
“If you can prove that you have been vaccinated or that you have been tested, you can still travel,” he said last week and reiterated yesterday.
But that does not appear to have been enough in the case of several passengers on Ryanair flight FR7242, which touched down at midnight last night in the Maltese capital Valletta from Dublin.
A passenger, who has a DCC but whose girlfriend does not, said The newspaper that their HSE vaccination certificate was not accepted when the couple landed in Malta. This despite checking his HSE certificate before boarding the flight to Dublin.
Robert says his girlfriend called the DCC helpline in Ireland last week to make sure she would have her certificate in time for the trip and was told the process would be expedited. She still hasn’t received it.
Upon landing in Malta this morning, the woman was told her vaccination certificate was “not the one required”, with Robert saying he believed around 25 people on the flight were in a similar situation.
He added that the couple had been told they would have to go into mandatory quarantine for 14 days, but could leave if his girlfriend received her DCC or if they booked a return flight.
A mandatory quarantine notification provided by the Maltese authorities and seen by The newspaper notes that the first day of quarantine is July 19 and will last until August 2.
After widely reported issues with the Irish DCC helpline yesterday, additional resources were put in place today, but still many people have reported issues with resolution.
A second toll-free number was then set up to deal with “urgent requests only”.
Robert says after two hours of waiting on the line this morning, the couple learned that his girlfriend is expected to have her DCC in “the next few days.”
The next return flight from Malta to Dublin will not take place until Thursday.
He says the cost of the mandatory quarantine in Malta is not too high, but he is concerned about older passengers on the flight who might have a bad experience.
“There was an older couple that I met at the hotel from Ireland who were very shaken up,” he said.
“I felt very bad for them because they didn’t know what to do. I tried to get their number to keep in touch and sort them out, but they were pissed off and didn’t have it on hand.
I know my mother would be very stressed if a similar situation happened to her. I called the hotel to ask for their names or room number to monitor them, but they didn’t give any details. Hopefully they have someone to take care of it for them. I imagine it would be very stressful for them.
Reopen the EU
DCC is an EU standardized system for streamlining traveller’s checks, but the advice given by the Irish Foreign Office is to check the restrictions in place in the country you are traveling to before departure using the website ReOpen EU.
The advice page for people traveling to Malta from Ireland was last updated yesterday.
It states that people can travel within the country if they are fully vaccinated and have a vaccination certificate recognized by the Public Health Superintendent of Malta.
In addition to the DCC, it lists recognized vaccination certificates such as those from Malta, UK, UAE, Turkey or USA. The newspaper asked the Malta Public Health Superintendent if Irish vaccination certificates are acceptable.
In a statement to The newspaper of Irish citizens who had recently arrived in Malta, the Irish Foreign Office said it was “aware of the situation and was in contact with the relevant authorities in Malta”.
“The department stands ready to provide consular assistance to Irish citizens upon request. As with all consular cases, the department does not comment on the details of a specific case, ”a spokesperson said.
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The Ministry of Transport, meanwhile, said it had been informed of the problem by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The ministry contacted the carrier which operates four flights per week to Malta. The carrier will engage with Maltese authorities regarding travel requirements within the country, ”a spokesperson said.
The newspaper also asked Ryanair to comment on whether there should be a change in policy regarding pre-boarding checks before Thursday’s scheduled flight.
There has been no response from Ryanair at the time of publication.
Additional reporting by Christina Finn