The Superintendence of Public Health, run by Charmaine Gauci, has refused a Freedom of Information request for its internal reports and studies into Malta’s now-defunct ‘dark red’ travel list.
Lovin Malta had requested a copy of all the internal reports and studies analysing which countries should be added to the ‘dark red’ list, which countries should be removed from it and which should remain there since the rule was launched in 2021.
However, it was rejected on the basis of the following two clauses in the FOI Act.
One of these clauses states that documents can be withheld “if the public interest that is served by non-disclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure”.
The second exempts the disclosure of documents relating to opinions, advice and recommendations given to the government or public authorities.
However, this clause comes with a proviso specifying it doesn’t apply to reports of scientific or technical experts, which is exactly the kind of report that was requested.
Lovin Malta is challenging the Superintendence’s decision internally.
Launched in 2021, the ‘dark red’ list was a list of countries from where travel was banned, with anyone flying to Malta from one of those countries forced to undergo a period of quarantine, regardless if they were vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested negative for the virus.
It was the focus of much criticism, particularly since travellers were forced to stay at government-designated quarantine hotels at their own cost.
Health Minister Chris Fearne insisted that the ban was meant to reflect those countries where COVID-19 was spreading the most, but there were months during which the list hadn’t been updated at all, despite shifts in the global epidemiological situation.
Malta scrapped the ‘dark red’ list on 9th May and is now applying a uniform rule, whereby travellers from all countries must present a valid vaccination certificate, a valid COVID-19 recovery test or a negative COVID-19 test.
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