Malta’s airport is set to partially reopen on 1st July and fully on 15th July, but the travelling experience will change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New technology, social distancing procedure and cleansing measures have been introduced, face masks are now obligatory and the outdoor smoking area is no more.
The situation is fluid, and measures and guidelines have regularly been updated, but this is the state of play as announced by the airport yesterday (15th June).
1. Masks or visors are obligatory
Masks or visors must be worn at all times inside the terminal, with exceptions made for children under six years old and people with a valid medical condition. The airport recommends that you change your mask every four hours and that you pack enough masks in your hand luggage for your entire trip, including the time spent on the plane and the airport of destination. Refuse containers for the disposal of face masks and gloves will be provided.
2. Rigorous cleaning procedures
Airport staff will clean and disinfect the terminal more frequently and intensively, especially surfaces that are regularly touched such as buttons and handles, while alcohol-based hand sanitisers will also be available at strategic spots. The airport also recommends that you being your own 100ml hand sanitising gel bottle with you, which can also be carried through security.
3. No non-travellers allowed inside the check-in hall
The airport’s check-in area will be segregated from the arrivals hall, with outlets in the former only accessible to travellers and those in the latter open to the general public. Dr Juice, which is right in the middle, will be open on both ends.
Exemptions will be made in special circumstances, such as for people who need to drop off or pick up a minor or a person with reduced mobility.
4. New social distancing signage
Signage and floor markings will be installed at check-in, security, departure, arrival and baggage reclaim areas and at outlets and restrooms to ensure passengers keep two metres away from each other. The airport is advising passengers to arrive at least two hours before their flight and has warned that security checks and boarding processes may take longer than usual.
Seating has also been reorganised for the purposes of social distancing, with unavailable seating clearly marked.
5. No smoking allowed
Smokers must take their last cigarette before their flight outside the terminal because smoking has been banned on the terraces. This is in line with health guidelines that forbid smoking outdoors at restaurants and bars on the grounds that people are being encouraged to sit outside where possible and that they therefore shouldn’t be exposed to cigarette smoke.
7. A new airport ‘care team’
A number of airport staff have been assembled and trained to act as a ‘care team’. Wearing easily identifiable light blue vests, their job will be to roam the airport, advise passengers on the new rules and ensure said rules are being observed.
8. Thermal screening cameras and tech to detect large groups
The airport has invested heavily in new technology, with thermal screening cameras intended to detect any passengers having a high temperature, over and above the temperature checks that will be carried out before they enter the airport. Meanwhile, agglomeration detection technology will alert the airport in real-time if passengers gather in large groups. Malta recently removed all limitations on public gatherings and the airport hasn’t yet explained how this new technology will be used.
9. New rules for the La Valette lounge
Members of the VIP La Valette lounge must book their stay here at least 24 hours before their trip so as to allow the airport to ascertain that social distancing requirements can be met. Guests can take off their masks or visors while at the lounge, while buffets have been replaced by waiter service. Newspapers, magazines and iPads will be unavailable to limit passengers’ contact with surfaces.
The airport will partially reopen on 1st July, with flights operating to and from Italy (except Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, and Piemonte), France (except Ile de France), Spain (except Madrid, Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha, and Castilla y Leon in Spain), Poland (except Katowice), Iceland, Slovakia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, Switzerland, Estonia, Denmark, Hungary, Austria, Luxembourg, Germany, Czechia, Ireland, and Finland.
Travellers arriving directly from the countries and regions on this list will not be required to observe a 14-day quarantine but will be asked to declare that they had lived in the country of origin for at least four weeks prior to travelling. Guests will also be asked to fill in a passenger locator form, which would enable the health authorities to trace them swiftly should the need arise.
On 15th July, Malta’s airport is set to open to all destinations without restrictions.
What do you make of the airport’s new rules? Let us know in the comments section