The Mediterranean island nation of Malta is requiring proof of vaccination for visitors 13 and up, the first European Union nation to do so.
Starting Wednesday, visitors to Malta must present a COVID-19 vaccination certificate that is recognized by Maltese health authorities, meaning certificates issued by Malta, the European Union or the United Kingdom.
The EU’s green passport program certifies people who are fully vaccinated, but also those who receive a negative PCR test result or have recovered from COVID-19. But Malta has decided to only recognize those who are fully vaccinated in hopes of stemming a recent rise in confirmed coronavirus cases.
“Malta will be the first EU country taking this step,” Health Minister Chris Fearne said.
Children ages 5-12 will only need to present proof of a negative PCR test, while those under 5 are exempt from all documentation requirements.
Malta, which has a population of just over half a million, had 46 active cases on July 1 and 252 active cases as of Friday. The country has reported nearly 31,000 cases and 420 deaths in the pandemic.
The Maltese government says 90 percent of the new COVID-19 cases are among unvaccinated people. Currently, 79 percent of Maltese adults have been fully vaccinated.
Fearne said that most of the new cases were linked to travel. Several positive cases were also identified in English-language teaching schools. As a result, the Maltese government ordered the closure of the schools starting Wednesday.