Travel to Malta: latest Covid rules and practical guidance once you are there

·7-min read
Boats in Bugibba bay, Malta - Getty
Boats in Bugibba bay, Malta - Getty

The sun is shining, beaches buzzing, restaurants and bars are open and hotels filling up as Malta does its best to have a normal summer. Some restrictions remain, including mask-wearing and social distancing.

This visitor-dependant Mediterranean island nation reopened its tourist industry at the beginning of June and on June 24, with Covid 19 cases in single figures, it was green-listed by the UK.

Cases have since risen and Malta has tightened its vaccine requirements for visitors. Following a precipitous hike in new cases – quadrupling in the week to July 14 – it also closed its English language schools where unvaccinated teens were predictably failing to socially distance. Numbers began to level off and it is hoped the spread will slow, allowing the rest of population – locals and visitors alike – to enjoy a summer of the islands’ sun, sea, sights, and gourmet grub.

Malta is also offering incentives to attract tourists back. Book into a hotel for three or more nights and you can bag vouchers worth between €100 at a three-star hotel and €200 at a five-star. Visitors to Gozo get an extra 10% (though some hotels there are already full). Bookings must be made via the weblinks provided here.

Can I go to Malta?

Malta is on the UK's green list, meaning you can travel back from the country without having to quarantine – regardless of your vaccination status. You will just need to take a test prior to flying back, and then another within two days of arriving home.

However, only fully vaccinated people can travel to Malta from the UK (you can provide the NHS Covid app as proof). Children aged 5 to 11 can travel if they accompany vaccinated parents or legal guardians provided they provide a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours before arrival in Malta. Children aged 12 to 18 will only be able to travel if they have proof of full vaccination, which is not offered in the UK at present.

Malta harbour dining - Getty
Malta harbour dining - Getty

Are flights operating?

Yes. Ryanair, easyJet, British Airways and Air Malta are among the airlines operating flights from the UK to Malta.

Will I be insured if I go?

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office does not warn against non-essential travel to Malta, meaning your insurance is likely to be valid if you visit Malta.

Do I need to take a test before travel to Malta?

If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to take a test prior to arrival. However, children aged 5 to 11 will need to show evidence of a negative PCR test, taken 72 hours before travel.

Do I need to fill in any forms?

Yes. Everyone arriving in Malta must complete a Public Health Travel Declaration Form and Passenger Locator Form. You must show both forms to airline officials on departure from the UK, and to health officials stationed at the Terminal Temperature Screening Points when you arrive in Malta. The forms should be completed before departure.

Madonna church on the island of Gozo - Getty
Madonna church on the island of Gozo - Getty

Do I need to self-isolate on arrival?

No. If you are eligible to enter (see above) you will not need to quarantine on arrival. You may be subject to health screening on arrival, however. If you test positive, quarantine measures will apply.

Do I need to wear a mask?

Malta mandates mask-wearing in all public indoor spaces and the vast majority of locals comply. Outside, masks are also required unless you are fully vaccinated, and carrying proof of that vaccination status, in which case you, along with up to one other fully vaccinated person, may go without a mask. The outdoor rule is less widely understood and compliance is much more mixed. Masks are not required when seated to eat or drink, on the beach, and when exercising – inside (including in gyms) or out (including running and other sports).

What are the rules on beaches?

On the beach, masks are merely recommended and, unsurprisingly, they aren’t worn (that would make an interesting sun tan, wouldn’t it). Social distancing is meant to apply everywhere including on the beach but it is not a legal stipulation and in more crowded locations, and especially where the young party crowd gather, such as St George’s Bay in Paceville, it certainly isn’t happening. In reality, the beach experience feels much the same as in any other summer.

Valletta harbour buildings - Getty
Valletta harbour buildings - Getty

What are the rules in bars?

Nightclubs and discos are closed but bars are open, and after months of curfew they can now serve until 2am (though obviously not all do). You cannot however just order a drink; you are expected to buy something to eat as well – and this applies inside and out. Table rules are the same as in restaurants (see below) and social distancing is supposed to be observed, but some Maltese bars have very small interiors and outside it may just be people milling (or perching) on the street. Compliance varies. It is pretty good in Valletta, not so much in Paceville.

What are the rules for restaurants?

Restaurants may legally seat no more than six people together (unless they are from the same household) and they must come from a maximum of four households. Tables are meant to be kept two metres apart and most restaurants are doing this or something like it. Once you get up from your table you must wear a mask. Many restaurants have outside space and in Maltese summer it almost never rains. In the evening when it is not so hot, it is both pleasant and safer to sit outside – but do book.

What are the rules for shopping?

Shops are open. Numbers allowed in at any one time are limited with a legal maximum of one person per four square metres including staff (tricky in some of Malta’s smaller shops). Queues to go in are usually not too long, and orderly - the Maltese queue almost like the British (a legacy of the colonial era). There is a legal requirement to wear a mask inside.

What are the rules in hotels?

Masks need to be worn in all indoor areas of hotels except your own room, swimming pools, gyms and when seated to eat or drink. Buffets are now allowed but they are required to be ‘assisted’ ie served by staff. Social distancing is expected (and variably observed) and lifts are supposed to be limited to one household at a time (also with mixed compliance). Restaurant rules apply in hotels as elsewhere. Whatever the rules may say, people do not wear masks while sunbathing around the pool.

Comino's Blue Lagoon - Getty
Comino's Blue Lagoon - Getty

What are the rules on public transport?

Masks must be worn on buses, ferries and taxis by both passengers and drivers/staff. Compliance is good on boarding; not quite so good during the journey. Capacity is reduced – for example to 65% on ferries – and you can now pay contactless on buses as well as at ticket offices and online (including for some taxis). The Gozo ferry terminals have closed some seating to encourage social distancing.

Shall I take cash, or pay for everything on card?

Cards – including contactless - are accepted almost everywhere, even, since Covid, on buses. But market stalls and kiosks mostly only accept cash. There are, though, plenty of ATMs.

Do I need to take a test before travelling back to England?

Yes. Even though Malta is on the green list, you must take a test 72 hours before travelling home. More information can be found here.

What is the case rate in Malta?

Malta has recorded 311 cases per 100,000 over the last seven days. This amounts to a 138.89% week-on-week increase. There have, however, been 0 deaths recorded.

How is Malta's vaccination drive going?

88.98% of the population has received a first dose. 82.96% of the population has received a second dose.

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