Tuesday, 20 July 2021, 11:28
Last update: about 2 minutes ago
Malta being placed on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) red list will not have direct consequences on the country’s tourism sector, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo told The Malta Independent.
Malta was placed on the red list amid a recent surge in the number of Covid-19 cases. Countries are placed on the red list if their notification rate is between 75 and 200 and they have a positivity rate higher than 4. Lithuania was the first country to re-impose quarantine restrictions on people entering the country from Malta, only hours after Malta was placed on the res list on Monday.
The minister was fielding questions from the press. Asked about the red list by this newsroom. He said: “Malta was not the only country whose status changed last week. The fact that as a country we are on the red list does not have direct consequences on our tourism sector, because we already decided that every visiting tourist has to be vaccinated, with exceptions for children.”
Asked about the concerns raised regarding Malta’s u-turns on tourism damaging Malta’s reputation abroad, and if this could have been avoided, he said: “As a country we have always acted in a cautious manner. First, we introduced the vaccine certificate or PCR test requirement, which applied for all those visiting Malta. Later, we adopted a more cautious approach and vaccine to safeguard the health of the Maltese public and to avoid closing the country.”
This year, he said, “we have a completely different situation. Last year we focused more on restrictions while this year we are focusing more on the vaccine.”
Asked if Malta opened too fast, the minister said the government was sometimes criticised for opening too fast, and other times for being too slow. “The approach we has always adopted was one of caution.”
He said some decisions taken were hard but needed to be taken.
“We kept taking decisions. The worst thing you can do it not taking any decisions at all. This is a government that tries to turn every challenge into an opportunity.”
The vaccine requirement offers peace of mind to travellers, he said. “Even the fact that most of the population is now fully vaccinated, it is helping us build a sustainable tourism sector.”