Malta’s two major restaurant lobby groups have cautiously welcomed today’s announcement that restaurants and snack bars will gradually reopen as of 10th May, but will have to close their doors to seated diners at 5pm and impose restrictions of four diners per table.
Describing the relaxing of measures as the first step to help restaurants survive, the Association of Catering Establishments urged the general public to help the industry as much as possible by planning their relaxation time before 5pm.
However, they said catering establishments should be allowed to reopen in full on 17th May.
“There is still no evidence that restaurants are the cause of spread and consequently there is no scientific or logical reason to risk entrepreneurs’ livelihoods,” the association said. “The concept of legal proportionality in a democratic society is not being followed by the Health Authorities.”
“ACE calls once again on rigid enforcements on crowd gathering in order to avoid the same issues due to which our members were forced to close in spite of the large majority observing the protocols.
Meanwhile, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association said that while today’s announcement has put an end to speculation and painful uncertainty, it won’t be of much help to the majority of restaurants to ensure sustainable operations of their business.
“It’s positive that we now have a date for the re-opening of restaurants but opening only for lunch does not make business sense for the majority of restaurants,” MHRA President Tony Zahra said.
“Many restaurants will continue to remain under a lot of pressure and our appeal to Government is to allow restaurants to serve dinner too whilst ensuring proper enforcement measures to guarantee that rules are abided for by all.”
“MHRA reiterates its support to the principle of protecting lives and livelihoods, but unfortunately restaurants are still paying the highest price as no business can survive if they cannot serve customers. The core business model of most restaurants depends on both lunch and dinner, mainly dinner, and therefore for many, it will not be feasible to open for lunch only.”
“MHRA is greatly concerned that such a situation will keep jeopardizing the jobs and investment in this sector. MHRA reiterates that it’s positive that we have a reopening date but it’s not enough to save our restaurants.”
Cover photo: Top right: MHRA president Tony Zahra, Bottom right: ACE secretary Matthew Pace