Tony Zahra

Responding to spiralling COVID cases in Malta, the Malta Hotels and Restaurant Association (MHRA) has reiterated calls for better enforcement of COVID rules, rather than the creation of further restrictions.

Speaking to BusinessNow.mt in the wake of COVID case figures that topped daily highs three times in the last week – to hit 336 on Tuesday – MHRA President Tony Zahra revealed the Association “still believes that it is the enforcement of regulations that need to be stepped up.”

Rather than the introduction of further lockdown measures (that in January the MHRA called “draconian, unnecessary, and counterproductive”), Mr Zahra believes that “if the regulations are strictly enforced and the fines levied the situation will improve”. 

Furthermore, the MHRA absolutely rejects a proposed “circuit breaker” lockdown to bring cases back down, arguing instead that only a vaccine will be an effective circuit breaker.

Looking to the future, he said, “there must be the will to enforce protocols without fear or favour. It’s time to get tough with the protocol breakers, and not time to get tough with those that follow protocols. In the last days, we have indeed witnessed reports of protocol breakers.”

Mr Zahra is joined by a growing number of speculators and experts calling for increased enforcement of existing lockdown measures, including the Nationalist Party opposition, who on Tuesday blamed lax enforcement for the spiralling COVID case numbers

According to the PN spokesperson Stephen Spiteri, “it is not right that we have a portion of society respecting the rules and another which is not. This is further compounded by enforcement that is not being taken seriously”. 

However, stakeholders in the hospitality industry have not been unified in their opposition to further COVID restriction measures.

For example, as reported by BusinessNow.mt on Friday, the Malta Chamber of SMEs feels that an opportunity was missed without Government intervention in the months of January and February that would have been quiet months for the industry anyway.

Concerns about COVID rules non-compliance have intensified in recent days, as footage of a crowded weekend party at the White Rocks Complex in Pembroke drew widespread condemnation from media outlooks and social media commentators alike.

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