Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci has affirmed her belief in COVID-19 vaccine “passports” to boost tourism in states pending herd immunity while curbing rates of transmission.
“I think it’s an important step in the fight against the pandemic,” Gauci told Lovin Malta during her COVID-19 press briefing today.
The Superintendent of Public Health explained that Malta has joined a “health network” with other countries keen on introducing vaccination passports as a prerequisite to travel.
The idea is that passengers would have to present proof that they have been inoculated against COVID-19 before boarding a flight.
This comes as Health Minister Chris Fearne pledged his support for an EU-wide vaccine passport during virtual meetings with other EU Health Ministers and representatives from health agencies like the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
“We’re not saying that you won’t be able to travel without a vaccine, but having an EU-wide system where we can effectively verify if someone is vaccinated or not will make it easier for tourism to pick up steam earlier,” Fearne said.
PN MEP Roberta Metsola has also backed the proposal, calling for a European Health Union to facilitate faster recovery in the bloc.
Greece and Denmark are also in talks about introducing this kind of certificate.
However, the concept of vaccine passports has some sceptics. Some EU leaders fear it could lead to discrimination on the basis of health, while one English researcher warned it could allow states to determine the degree of freedoms and rights citizens enjoy.
Malta’s largest hotel and restaurant lobby has also expressed its concern, as the current rate of vaccine uptake would mean only people over 65 would be able to travel this summer, resulting in another poor season for the islands’ hard-hit tourism sector.
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