Chaos as Malta refuses to accept NHS app as proof of jab

Holidays to Malta in chaos as island officials REFUSE to accept NHS app as proof of both jabs and insist on seeing printed government letter ‘that takes five days to arrive’ at airport instead

  • Malta is refusing to let British holidaymakers use NHS app as proof of vaccines 
  • Authorities on the island are instead demanding a printed letter from the NHS 
  • However, the letters can take five days to arrive, leaving travellers trapped 

British holidaymakers with trips booked to Malta have seen their plans thrown into chaos after the country announced it is not accepting the NHS app as proof of vaccination.

From Wednesday, travellers from the UK aged 12 and above are only permitted to enter Malta if they have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

But authorities in the central Mediterranean archipelago revealed on Monday that they will only accept printed letters sent by the NHS as proof.

That means tourists planning to use the NHS app to demonstrate their status face being turned away at UK airports or the border in Malta, even if they are fully vaccinated.

To request an NHS vaccine letter, you have to fill out a form online, which you can only do two weeks after your second jab.  

The UK Government’s website states that letters then take ‘up to five working days’ to be delivered. 

From Wednesday, travellers from the UK aged 12 and above are only permitted to enter Malta if they have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine

However, Maltese authorities have now revealed that the NHS app will not count as proof of vaccine

This means that Britons hoping to go on holiday in the next few days will be unable to go to Malta – even if they have booked flights. 

The reason for the rule change is unclear, though travel websites suggest the Maltese government fear the QR code on the NHS app can be easily forged. 

Malta was set to be added to the UK’s green list from June 30 – meaning that Britons would be able to travel to the island and return without needing to self-isolate.  

Several affected people have sent Twitter messages to the British High Commission for Malta stating that the policy means their trips cannot go ahead as planned.

Mark Holland, of Hove, East Sussex, wrote: ‘I travel in under three days, and have no time to request a letter.’

Children aged five to 11 can travel if they are accompanying their fully vaccinated parents or legal guardian, and must show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival.

No test is required for those aged under five.

The requirement for UK arrivals for those aged 12 to 17 to be fully vaccinated is effectively an outright ban, as the UK is not vaccinating under-18s.

Katie Crookshank, of London, wrote to the High Commission: ‘We have a 12-year-old girl who is distraught as she now can’t be a bridesmaid in August.’

She continued: ‘The reputation of Malta being a family friendly island is being damaged. Why can’t they be PCR tested?’

British High Commissioner to Malta, Cathy Ward, replied that she was ‘so sorry to hear this’.

To request an NHS vaccine letter, you have to fill out a form online, which you can only do two weeks after your second jab. The UK Government’s website states that letters then take ‘up to five working days’ to be delivered

She added that the Maltese authorities have said ‘the guidance on teenagers is due to the virus now spreading fastest in this age group and they are worried about the spread of the Delta variant’.

There was a surge in demand for holidays in Malta, Spain’s Balearic Islands, Portugal’s Madeira and a number of Caribbean destinations after the UK Government announced last week they would be moved to the green travel list on Wednesday at 4am.

IN FULL: The UK’s new travel green list 

All changes will come into effect from Wednesday, June 30 at 4am:

  • Anguila
  • Antigua and Barbuda 
  • Australia
  • Balearic Islands
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • British Antarctic Territory
  • British Indian Ocean Territory
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Brunei
  • Cayman Islands
  • Dominica 
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Grenada 
  • Iceland
  • Israel and Jerusalem – to be moved to the Green Watch List
  • Madeira
  • Malta
  • Montserrat 
  • New Zealand
  • Pitcairn Islands 
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
  • Singapore
  • Turks and Caicos Islands  

The UK Government will move the following countries to the red list from June 30:

  • Dominican Republic 
  • Eritrea
  • Haiti
  • Mongolia
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda 

The change means people arriving in the UK from those places no longer need to quarantine at home for 10 days.

Price comparison website TravelSupermarket said Malta went from being its 17th most popular country among package holiday customers to number five following the announcement.

Within minutes, flight prices to the popular holiday destinations had tripled, with tickets for a return flight to Ibiza on July 3 and July 10 leaped from £149 to £314 while journeys on the same days to Majorca leaped from £153 to £478. 

The Transport Secretary also said the Government will allow those who are double-jabbed to holiday in amber list countries without having to quarantine on their return – but this is still weeks away, with the rule not likely to come in until July at the earliest.

But the announcements drew criticism from some airlines, with easyJet saying it ‘simply isn’t ambitious enough’, while Virgin Atlantic chief Shai Weiss also criticised the decision to leave the US on the UK’s amber list, saying: ‘Today’s announcement fails to go far enough.’ 

Meanwhile, Sean Doyle, CEO of British Airways, told the BBC: ‘We cannot afford another missed summer. There are jobs at stake, Britons separated from family members and we cannot afford to allow the success of our vaccine programme to be wasted.’

It came as others across the beleaguered travel sector voiced similar concerns. The Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said the Government’s ‘overly cautious’ approach would continue to have ‘major financial impacts’ on the sector.

‘Any extension of the green list is welcome, however small, but we also have to be realistic: this is not yet the meaningful restart the aviation industry needs to be able to recover from the pandemic,’ she said.

CBI chief UK policy director Matthew Fell added: ‘While welcome, these limited movements on green list countries won’t be enough to salvage the summer season for the international travel sector.

‘International connectivity extends far beyond tourism and underpins our whole economy. The UK’s successful vaccine rollout means we should be in the vanguard of safely restarting international travel.’

Meanwhile, the holiday company On the Beach said it would not be taking new bookings for July and August while so much uncertainty remained about countries on the watchlist.

Chief executive Simon Cooper said: ‘Booking a holiday to these destinations is not a guarantee that you won’t have to self-isolate when you return home.

‘While this uncertainty continues, we will continue to not sell holidays for July and August until we have greater confidence these holidays will go ahead with minimal disruptions.’

It comes as six countries including Tunisia and Haiti will be put on the UK’s travel red list – meaning only UK citizens and those with residency status can travel from here and must stay in quarantine hotels for 10 days.

Israel and Jerusalem, which have been on the UK’s travel green list since its inception, will be added to the ‘green watch list’.

Others in this category – which signals that a country might be moved to the amber list in the near future – include Antigua, the Balearic Islands, Barbados and Grenada.

And in another blow France and Germany launched a joint push to make Britons quarantine on arrival in the EU despite Boris Johnson hailing the ‘real opportunity’ of opening travel to double-jabbed holidaymakers.  

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