Malta was not added to the UK’s travel green list on Thursday, as the UK unveiled its latest update on its traffic light travel system.
In its latest announcement, the UK government said that Portugal was moved from the UK’s green list to its amber list, while no countries were added to its green list.
Malta hoped to be placed on the UK’s green list to ease travel between the two countries and this is the second time Malta was left off it. Malta is currently on the amber list, meaning that travellers heading from Malta to the UK will require a ten-day quarantine. The UK government is also urging UK residents not to travel to amber list countries.
Travellers to green-listed countries would not require quarantine upon return to the UK.
Malta had been working to try and get on the green list, and it was hoped that the drop in active cases and quick vaccination strategy would place the island on the UK’s list.
Seven countries – Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago – have been added to the UK’s red list.
The changes to the UK’s lists come into effect on Tuesday.
Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo said that the announcement was a disappointment for the tourism sector.
He said that Malta is the only EU country that achieved herd immunity, is at the front in terms of its vaccination programme and has the lowest infection rate in the EU.
“In simple terms, in this situation the failing is not Malta’s. The UK chose to eliminate more countries from its green list in light of the increase in Covid-19 cases experienced in England over the past days.”
“From our end, our work will continue to diversify the tourism market while assuring that we continue to attract tourism that is secure both for tourists and the Maltese population.”
MHRA frustrated with UK’s decision
The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) expressed its frustration at the UK’s decision. “No other countries were added to the list, and moreover Portugal, which was on the green list three weeks ago, was relegated to amber.”
MHRA asserts that there is no apparent scientific and logical reason for such decision “as Malta is excelling in its management of Covid-19 and has met all the criteria as laid down by the British government. The British market represented 33% of all tourist arrivals in 2019 and losing this market at one go will significantly affect the tourism industry.”
MHRA questions whether “the British government is taking political decisions that undermine the decades old free movement of trade and services which are tantamount to protectionist measures rather than purely based on scientific basis.”
MHRA calls on the EU to support further the hospitality industry and to ensure it defends one of the major freedoms of the Union.