The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) has called upon the Government to reopen hospitality venues including restaurants and hotels “which are not even permitted to serve breakfast”, on 26th April, at the same time as non-essential shops.
“Restaurants have been amongst the worst economic victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and after a very long tough year, we are all looking ahead to the reopening of the restaurants on 26th April and the tourism market on 1st June”, the organisation said.
Whilst the MHRA acknowledges that managing the re-opening of restaurants is critical to ensure that there are no spikes of COVID-19 related infections, it asserts that restaurant owners have reached a point where they cannot wait any longer as their situation has become dire.
MHRA President Tony Zahra commented that: “Operating a restaurant involves a lot of overheads, and these are not just employee wages. Many restaurant owners are reaching a breaking point waiting as to what is going to happen with their and their employee’s livelihoods”.
“We now need a clear plan so that we all know where we stand and therefore can prepare our operations for what is an already very difficult situation”, he continued.
The Government has previously drawn criticism for its reopening plan, which detractors decry as providing little in the way of information for struggling businesses in the hospitality industry.
Other industry bodies, including the Association of Catering Establishments (ACE), have also urged the Government to reopen restaurants as soon as possible.
According to reports in local media, the Government is set to allow restaurants to reopen from mid-May.
It seems it is already too late for many ailing businesses, as COVID mitigation measures have forced them closed and deprived them of international tourism, which was the lifeblood of many.
According to a survey carried out by ACE, 19 per cent of Malta’s restaurants has been forced to close in the wake of COVID public health restrictions.
The MHRA said it is also lobbying the Health Authorities so that employees working in the tourism sector will, as critical economic front liners, be vaccinated before the re-opening of the tourism market on the 1st of June 2021.
This is important not only because it re-enforces the message that Malta is a safe destination, but also will strategically ensure that any risks of extraordinary exposure to COVID-19 infections are effectively managed whilst ensuring the wellbeing of all those involved, the MHRA points out.
On Wednesday, the Government announced that it is opening vaccination registration for people in their 40s from Friday. By the end of this week, Malta is expected to have given 300,000 doses of its COVID vaccines.
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