Malta: More holiday woe for Brits as country says 'no' to NHS app as proof of vaccination status

People were almost on the plane to Malta but were told they could not travel on their holiday, ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent reports

Brits hoping to head to Malta on their summer holidays have been dealt another blow, despite the country now being on the UK government's green list.

Having been opened up to holidaymakers for quarantine-free travel, Malta has now said it will not accept the NHS app as proof of vaccination.

It's the latest move by authorities in the country that could see travel plans go down the drain at the last minute.

The country has already effectively banned Brits aged 12-17 from entering the country by requiring them to be double jabbed - the UK is not yet offering jabs to under-18s.

Valletta in Malta. Credit: PA

Authorities in the central Mediterranean archipelago have now revealed they will only accept printed letters sent by the NHS as proof.

It 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.

With letters expected to take "up to five working days" to be delivered, according to UK government website, those with flights in the next few days face disappointment.

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."

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?"

Green and amber list travel: What you need to know

What does it mean when a country is on the green list?

It's important to note that just because a country is on the UK's green list, it doesn't necessarily mean the country is accepting UK citizens - Australia being one example - so check with the relevant country's government website for their latest rules on tourist arrivals.

People who are travelling to countries on the green list will need to take a Covid test up to 72 hours before they return to the UK and a single PCR test on or before day two of their arrival into the UK - but you do not need to quarantine unless the test result is positive.Children aged four and under are exempt from the test.

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What countries are on the green list?

From 4am on Monday 30 August, the Azores, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania and Switzerland will be added to the green list. These are the other countries already on the list:

  • Australia

  • Austria

  • Brunei

  • Bulgaria,

  • Caribbean Islands (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, Barbados, Dominica, Granada, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands)

  • Croatia

  • Falkland Islands

  • Faroe Islands

  • Germany

  • Gibraltar

  • Hong Kong

  • Iceland

  • Israel and Jerusalem

  • Latvia

  • Malta

  • Madeira

  • New Zealand

  • Norway

  • Romania

  • Singapore

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia

  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

  • St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

  • Taiwan

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What countries are on the amber list?

No countries are being added to the amber list as part of the traffic light list changes coming into effect on Monday 30 August.There are currently more than 130 other countries on the amber list, including popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Portugal and Italy. The full list of amber list countries can be found on the UK government website.

What does it mean when a country is on the amber list?

If you're over 18 and not had two Covid vaccinations, on arrival in the UK from amber list countries you need to:

  • take a Covid test up to 72 hours before you return to the UK

  • quarantine for 10 days

  • take a test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 after arriving in the UK.

However, if you've been fully vaccinated in the UK or under 18, you don't need to quarantine or take a day 8 test after you get back, but you still need to take a test on or before day 2 after arriving. You must have had your final dose of the vaccine at least 14 whole days before the date you arrive in England to be considered as fully vaccinated under the amber list rules.

Separate to these rules for UK citizens, since 2 August people fully vaccinated in the USA or most European countries will not need to quarantine if they have been in an amber list country in the 10 days before arriving. They will still need to take a test on or before day 2 after arriving.

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Robert was due to fly to Malta this morning, but was turned away at Heathrow Airport because of the change in rules.

British High Commissioner to Malta, Cathy Ward, replied saying Maltese authorities have stated "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".

The Commission added that the government for Malta sets the entry requirements and travel advice can change at short notice.

So who can go on holiday to Malta?

Adults who are double jabbed and have an NHS letter as proof will be permitted into the country.

Children between 12 and 17-years-old are effectively banned from travel to Malta as the country requires them to be double jabbed - the UK is not yet vaccinating under-18s.

Children aged five to 11 can travel if they are accompanying their fully-vaccinated parents or legal guardian - providing the adult has a letter proving their own vaccination status.

Five to 11-year-olds must still show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival.

No test is required for those aged under five.

Another user, Hannah, wrote: "Unbelievable last second change. Why is the NHS app now not acceptable when it was 24 hours ago?!

"I travel to Malta on Monday, followed all guidelines but in a digital age you now want a letter I cannot get in time?!"

William Bird, also due to fly next week, wrote: "This is crazy. Do I cancel my holiday that I’ve booked from the 4th in case the letter we didn’t know we needed until today doesn’t arrive in time?"

Listen to our latest episode of Coronavirus: What you need to know

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.

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.

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