With just days to go before new COVID regulations come into force on 17th January, the health authorities have finally published guidelines for establishments that will be required to ask their customers for a vaccine certificate.

To recap, you need to ask your patrons for their certificate if you manage one of the following:

  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Restaurants
  • Social clubs (including amusement areas)
  • Snack bars
  • Cinemas
  • Pools, spas and saunas
  • Gyms and fitness centres
  • Sport events
  • Bowling alleys
  • Theatres
  • Organised events
  • Exhibition
  • Casinos, gaming parlours and bingo halls

Here we answer some of the questions you may have about the ins and outs of verifying customers’ certificates, who is exempted and what happens if you don’t follow the rules.

Note: When ‘primary schedule’ is mentioned below, this refers to the initial course of vaccination as recommended by the manufacturer e.g., two
doses of Spikevax (Moderna), Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Vaxzevria (Astrazeneca) or one dose of the Jannsen (Johnson& Johnson) vaccine.

How do I verify people’s certificates?

An establishment’s staff are responsible for verifying the Digital Vaccination Certificates and confirming the identity of the persons entering the establishment or attending the event against an ID card or passport on admission.

Establishment staff will be required to have the CovPass Malta app installed on their devices to be able to verify the authenticity of COVID vaccine certificates.

Since the app can be used to verify other forms of EU Digital Covid Certificates, such as test certificates, staff should initially confirm that the document presented is a vaccination certificate before proceeding to scan it. Only a vaccination certificate is acceptable for entry into the establishment.

You can download the app here. At the time of writing, it’s only available for Android devices, but the authorities have said they’re working to get it approved on the Apple App Store too.

Do my staff need to get vaccinated?

Staff working in direct contact with patrons need to be vaccinated. However, there is an exemption period up to 1st February, after which they need to be in possession of a valid vaccination certificate.

Staff not in direct contact with patrons can be exempted from providing a vaccination certificate at the workplace.

Are any customers exempted?

Yes – there are several categories of people who do not have to present a vaccine certificate. These include:

  • Children under 12
  • Pregnant women up to 16 weeks gestation who have delayed receiving their booster due to early pregnancy will be allowed entry to the above establishments if they present a recognised vaccine certificate documenting that they have received the primary schedule of COVID vaccination, together with an antenatal card/ doctor’s certificate confirming, he dates of their pregnancy
  • People who have been unable to take the booster due to recently testing positive. Such persons will be allowed entry to establishments/events if they present a recognised vaccine certificate documenting that they have received the primary schedule of COVID vaccination (even if the last dose has been administered more than 3 months previously) together with their positive COVID-19 test result from a licenced laboratory or registered swabbing centre dated no more than 6 weeks prior
  • People with underlying health conditions – the only instance in which a request for consideration for exemption from vaccination certificate requirement for entry to establishments on medical grounds is justified is where the first dose of the vaccine caused immediate severe anaphylaxis requiring medical treatment. In all other medical conditions and situations, at least one of the authorised vaccines may be administered safely.

What’s the penalty if I fail to follow the regulations?

Any person who manages any establishment or organises any activity in any establishment mentioned above and who gives access to any person not being in possession of a valid certificate shall on conviction be liable to the payment of a penalty of €500 for each and every instance in which these regulations are breached. This penalty has been confirmed in a legal notice published on Friday, regulating which businesses must scan for a certificate.

Do I have to accept anyone who presents a certificate?

No – you can refuse entry to a patron if they are visibly unwell or have respiratory symptoms, even if they present a vaccination certificate.

Meanwhile, keep practising the same measures that have been in force for a while, such as taking both staff and patrons’ temperatures, and providing hand sanitiser.

For the full guidelines, click here.

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