Catering restaurant waiter

Malta’s Association of Catering Establishments (ACE) is calling on the Superintendent of Public Health and the country’s health authorities in general to reconsider new rules coming into effect from 17th January which it says places the catering sector at a disadvantage.

As of 17th January, visitors to bars, restaurants, gyms, pools, sporting events and cinemas will require valid vaccine certificates for entry.

As of the same date, vaccine certificates where the individual has received their second dose or single dose Johnson & Johnson will only be valid for three months. The validity of vaccine certificates for those with a booster will be two weeks after they received their third shot, for a period of nine months thereafter.

ACE has pointed out the impossibility of the situation, with the industry having been plagued by serious and persistent staffing issues throughout 2021 for various reasons. Now, a new hurdle has been added to the HR crisis in catering, workers must have a valid vaccine certificate, in the same way as visitors must have one.

In a strongly worded statement, ACE wrote: “Losing non-vaccinated staff is not an option. Moreover, the measures announced for non-vaccinated staff should not be limited to the catering industry but rather should be implemented across the board so as to ensure a fair and just system.”

ACE also remarked that the industry cannot afford to have a different time bar on foreign vaccine certification vis-a-vis a domestic one.

This refers to the different rules Malta has placed on the expiration of vaccine certificates from the EU’s approach. The EU COVID pass will be valid for nine months after the second dose, with no expiration period tied to the third dose.

The ACE noted “that it is pointless to implement policies which can never be adhered to”.

In this light, ACE called on the Superintendence of Public Health to “be reasonable, to keep in mind the challenges the industry is facing and reconsider the measures proposed”.

The ACE also called on the authorities for further enforcement on people who are blatantly abusing quarantine.

“Such abuse is creating further damage to the industry.”

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