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Malta holiday plans in chaos for Britons as country says it will not accept NHS app as proof of vaccination

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Holidaymakers hoping to visit Malta have seen their plans derailed after the country announced it will not accept the NHS app as proof of vaccination.

Travellers from the UK aged 12 and above are only permitted to enter the country if they have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The requirement is effectively an outright ban for those aged 12 to 17 as they are currently not eligible to receive a vaccine in the UK.

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But now the additional hurdle has been placed by authorities in the central Mediterranean archipelago, who have said they will only accept printed letters sent by the NHS as proof of double vaccination.

This means tourists planning to use the app to demonstrate their status face being turned away at UK airports or the border in Malta, even if they are fully vaccinated against the virus.

Malta’s tourism website says “only the paper version of the NHS Covid letter will be accepted as proof of double vaccination to enter Malta and that “no digital form of the vaccination certificate, not even the downloaded PDF version from the App (including the QR codes generated by the App) will be accepted”.

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The UK government’s website states letters are expected to take “up to five working days” to be delivered.

Several people have expressed their frustration with the new system on Twitter by sending messages to the British High Commission for Malta.

Great Yarmouth singer and songwriter John Galea wrote: “This is ridiculous! – I’m meant to be travelling 9am tomorrow and a letter won’t arrive in time now! Why isn’t the NHS app any good all of sudden?”

Children aged five to 11 can travel if they are accompanying their fully vaccinated parents or legal guardian, and must show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival.

No test is required for those aged under five.

Another Twitter user sent a message to the British High Commissioner to Malta Cathy Ward, which said: “We have a 12-year-old in tears as she can’t be a bridesmaid out in Malta in August.

“Her mental health has suffered anyway and now she’s wondering why she’s being punished.”

The commissioner replied to say she was “sorry to hear this” but confirmed Maltese authorities have implemented the rule due to “the virus now spreading fastest in this age group” and concern over the spread of the Delta variant.

There was an increase in demand for trips to Malta, Spain’s Balearic Islands, Portugal’s Madeira and a number of Caribbean destinations after the government placed them on the green travel list.

The change means people arriving in the UK from those places are no longer required to quarantine at home for 10 days.