Restaurants with a licence that allows them to accommodate up to 300 people no longer have to make sure tables are socially distanced.
The amendment is part of updated COVID-19 guidelines for accommodation, catering and outdoor establishments, which come into force today.
With regard to seating arrangements for restaurants, the guidelines state:
“For establishments where the capping for the number of persons in accordance with their operating licence does not exceed a total of 300 persons, seating arrangements can follow operating licence conditions.”
On the other hand, establishments whose operating licence allows them to have a capacity of more than 300 people must make sure that no more than eight persons are seated together, except for groups of persons from the same household. Tables are to be arranged so that the distance from one table to another table is not less than 1.5 metres in all directions in an indoor enclosed area, and not less than one metre in all directions in the outdoor area of the venue.
No standing or dancing is to be allowed in such establishments.
Of note, the guidelines state that catering establishment employers should encourage their client-facing staff to get vaccinated, without making this mandatory.
As well as the relaxation on seating arrangements, as of today restaurants, snack bars and każini no longer need to ask their patrons to present a valid vaccine certificate in order to be served.
Bars, gyms, spas, pools, cinemas and theatres will be able to follow suit on 14th February, although mass events, sports events, casinos and nightclubs are still subject to the rule that only came into force on 17th January.
The short-lived restrictions on bars, restaurants and so on proved to be highly unpopular amongst affected businesses, their patrons and representative bodies. The Nationalist Party had demanded the rules be revoked, while several hundred people took to the streets of Valletta in protest in recent weeks.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced that more restrictions would be lifted today, although he did not specify which ones.
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