North Macedonia and Serbia should both be placed on Malta’s ‘amber’ travel list in light of a low rate of COVID-19 in those countries, a group representing the Macedonian community in Malta has appealed.
An online petition calling for both countries to be placed on Malta’s amber list has so far received over 3,000 signatures.
“Over 15,000 Macedonians and Serbians work and live in Malta, but unfortunately, because of the global COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions to restrain the spread of the virus, our two countries have been left without flights [to Malta] for more than a year and a half,” the group’s president Maksimiljan Kazakov said in a statement.
“This resulted in an enormous number of people living here being unable to return home and our loved ones not being allowed to visit us without spending days in quarantine.”
He said the community felt hopeful when it heard the news that Malta plans to reopen to tourists on 1st June, but was left disappointed after both countries were left out of the amber list.
“We have been torn apart from our families and loved ones for over a year and a half now,” he said.
COVID-19 cases have declined significantly in both countries in recent weeks. North Macedonia, a country of over 2 million people, is currently registering an average of 23 new cases everyday, while Serbia, with a population of around 7 million, is registering an average of 217.
“Our biggest frustration is that many countries which ended up on Malta’s amber list had ten times as any new cases as our countries,” Kazakov said. “We’ve started wondering whether this is some kind of discrimination because we are ‘third world counties’. Are we ‘incidentally forgotten’ or do we need to raise the questions that we are ‘unwanted’ here?”
“This is our first step to draw the government’s attention to revise the amber list and consider listing both our countries. If this petition is ignored, we are preparing our next steps. We really hope this will be considered and acknowledged by the government and that together we will work towards resolving issues and problems by working closely together.”
People traveling from ‘amber’ countries can travel to Malta if they present proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 swab test, taken 72 hours before arrival. If they don’t present this test, they are meant to be subjected to a test upon arrival and quarantined if they test positive.
As of 1st June, fully vaccinated Maltese nationals or Malta residency permit holders may present Maltese vaccination certificate instead of negative PCR tests when returning to Malta.
Vaccination certificates issued by other EU countries will only be accepted once the EU’s planned digital COVID-19 ‘passport’ is functioning, while certificates by non-EU counties will be accepted once bilateral vaccination recognition deals have been signed.
Commercial travel from countries on Malta’s red list is banned. Maltese citizens or residents in those countries are allowed to travel to Malta subject to presenting a negative PCR test taken at least 72 hours before arrival, testing on arrival, 14 days of mandatory quarantine in Malta, and a repeat PCR test on day 11-12.
Malta’s list of ‘amber’ countries was last updated on 27th April.