“Oh, to be in Malta right now!” says Juliet Rix, author of the Bradt Guide to Malta and Gozo. She and I were both due to visit the Mediterranean island nation in March but then, of course, everything changed.
Fortunately, Juliet’s dream is now a little more achievable because, from today, British travellers can enter the country again, without quarantine or testing.
Since May, Malta has been gradually reopening public facilities and venues including hotels, restaurants and bars, hairdressers and barbers, gyms and cinemas. Cultural attractions are largely open but have reduced opening hours – and of course, social distancing measures are in place throughout.
“Malta has been too quiet”
Tolene Van Der Merwe, Director, UK & Ireland – Malta Tourism Authority, commented: “We are thrilled that British travellers can travel once again to our islands. Malta has been too quiet, and we are excited to welcome holidaymakers back from 15th July to experience our rich history, Michelin star gastronomy scene and world-class diving sites.
“Malta launched a ‘Certified Compliant’ badge scheme to visually show tourists which accommodation providers, restaurants and tourist attractions have been verified as following safety and hygiene protocols.”
Airlines back online
Malta International Airport reopened on 1 July and international commercial flights to and from the island nation, operated by Air Malta, Ryanair and others, resumed that week.
Passengers arriving from 50 countries including the UK and Ireland do not have to enter quarantine and do not require a special travel permit. The list of approved destinations may be revised if necessary – go to visitmalta.com/en/reopening-airport for updates.
Notably the USA is missing from this list; travellers from America and any country not on the list (who have not spent at least 14 days in one of the safe countries first) need to email the local health authority on firstname.lastname@example.org for a special exemption to enter Malta. It is undecided at this point if there will be testing involved for these visitors but they may be required to quarantine.
Staying safe while travelling
What measures is the country taking to ensure the safety of its visitors and locals?
Tolene Van Der Merwe continued: “When travellers land in Malta they are thermal screened, must wear a face-covering whilst in the airport and are asked to complete a self-declaration form. For those who wish to lay on the beach or by the pool, there are daily beach cleans, more frequent cleaning of public amenities, and two-metre distance between sunbeds and umbrellas.
“Visitors are also asked to wear a facemask or visor in certain locations or indoor places where two-metre social distancing cannot be followed. Public transport in Malta and Gozo is operating normally.”
Go to Malta’s Ministry of Health website deputyprimeminister.gov.mt for updates.
Why visit Malta?
Despite receiving almost 3 million tourists in 2018, Malta is still relatively unknown compared to some European short-haul destinations (a flight to capital Valletta is just over three hours). So why visit?
“Wander the bijou baroque streets of the tiny citadel capital Valletta”
Juliet Rix believes that there’s plenty to enjoy: “Sun, sea, fresh island air, and the greatest density of historic sites of any country.
“When you’ve had enough of the coast (if, in summer, that is ever) head inland to see the second oldest stone buildings in the world (older than Stonehenge), scan the panoramic views from high atop the Dingli cliffs, wander the bijou baroque streets of the tiny citadel capital Valletta, or hop on the half-hour ferry to Gozo for some real rural R&R.”