Bars which opened their doors after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic will soon start receiving a wage supplement, Prime Minister Robert Abela has pledged.
At a political rally today, Abela said he feels for bar owners, who have recently been informed that they will have to remain closed throughout the festive season, until at least New Year’s Day.
“Behind every bar is a family making an honest living,” he said. “Bar owners might have taken out loans to invest in their bar, employed other people and signed rental contracts.”
“However, I didn’t have a choice. I recently visited Mater Dei with [Health Minister] Chris Fearne to meet up with a number of medical consultants, and their clear message was that although they’re keeping up [with the COVID-19 cases], they won’t be able to cope if the pressure increases.”
Stating that bar owners cannot be blamed for the worrying situation they’re currently in, he urged people to realise that they’re shouldering a greater burden than most other businesses.
“We feel their hardship and we’ll respond with action.”
As it stands, the wage supplement is only eligible for staff who were employed at companies impacted by the pandemic in March 2020 and who are still employed at that same company.
Several catering establishments have urged the government to be more flexible so as to ensure the aid reflects the current market, and not the market of eight months ago.
Abela didn’t specify whether bars which were open in March 2020 will be able to benefit from wage supplements for staff they hired after that date.
Questions sent by Lovin Malta to Economy Minister Silvio Schembri two weeks ago in this regard remain unanswered.
In his speech today, Abela said he’s envisaging the first consignment of potential COVID-19 vaccines to reach Malta’s shores within a month and for a vaccination programme to commence the very next day. He said he wants the economy to “strongly recover” by March and for the entire country to return to business as usual by May.
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