From a town in Nigeria where he is currently carrying out charity work, Maltese fitness influencer Daniel Umanah has launched an appeal to the health authorities.
Umanah, along with his father and sister, are due to return to Malta next week but are facing the prospect of having to spend two weeks at an officially recognised quarantine hotel for two weeks at their own cost.
This is because the Maltese health authorities are obliging all travellers from countries classified as ‘dark red’ to quarantine at a hotel even if, as is the case with the Umanahs, they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19, test negative for the virus and have their own home they can isolate in.
Umanah told Lovin Malta that they applied for an exemption on the grounds that his sister Rachel has Down syndrome and tends to go into a tantrum when she’s locked inside a room that isn’t familiar to her.
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“We’re not trying to avoid quarantine but to be allowed to quarantine at home, instead of a hotel, as was the case in the past,” he said. “Why does it have to be a hotel?”
However, their request was denied, a decision which frustrated Umanah, particularly after he found out that the Malta national football team was recently granted an exemption from all kinds of quarantine after returning from Russia, which is also classified as a ‘dark red’ country.
“This is a big injustice,” he said. “Why were they given an exception but we aren’t? We’re only one family, not 30 different families like them, and they’re not going to spend any time in quarantine while we’re asking to be quarantined at home.”
Umanah travelled to the Nigerian village of Ikot Imoh, his father’s hometown, this summer after raising €18,000 from the public in a crowdfunding campaign.
He has used the money to provide food, clothing, medical check-ups and toilets to the children of the village, regularly sharing his experiences on his Instagram page.
Introduced last July in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases, the ‘dark red’ list adds a new layer to Malta’s COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Visitors can only travel to Malta from a ‘dark red’ country in exceptional circumstances, which includes returning Maltese citizens or residents, and with prior authorisation by the Superintendent of Public Health.
They must present a negative PCR test before boarding, spend 14 days quarantined at a Maltese quarantine hotel against a payment of €100 a night, which only includes breakfast, and test negative for the virus again on the 11th or 12th day of quarantine.
In contrast, travellers from countries in the red zone must fill out a passenger locator form and present a vaccination certificate recognised by the Maltese authorities or, in the case of children aged 5-11, a negative PCR test.
Travellers older than 12 not in possession of a vaccine certificate must present a negative PCR test and undergo 14 days of quarantine which they can spend at a quarantine facility or an alternative address, if authorised by the Superintendent of Public Health.
However, the official rules make it clear that the alternative address exemption only applies to people travelling from ‘red’ countries, while providing no explanation as to why the same rules don’t apply to travellers from ‘dark red’ ones.
Malta currently has only two officially recognized quarantine facilities – Marina Hotel in St George’s Bay and ST Sliema Hotel.
Prime Minister Robert Abela and Health Minister Chris Fearne have refused to explain the logic behind this rule when questioned by Lovin Malta at recent press conferences, with Abela insisting it’s a health issue and Fearne simply denying that the rule was introduced to appease the owners of the two quarantine hotels.
Cover photos: Danielumanahofficial (Instagram)
Do you think Malta should allow people returning from ‘dark red’ countries to quarantine at home?