Malta Tourism Authority CEO Johann Buttigieg believes that good enforcement was in place to ensure restaurants abided by COVID-19 protocols, despite new measures introduced today that shut them down temporarily.
“In February alone, MTA carried out over 10,000 inspections at catering establishments, over 22 were fined for breaching protocols or remaining open beyond their curfew. No one can say enforcement isn’t happening,” he said during tonight’s episode of Popolin.
Buttigieg explained how officials were aware of certain establishments that were pushing the protocol limits and that, in some cases, licenses were changed if they were found to be breaching regulations.
“With regards cowboys, I can assure you that we changed the license of three establishments in the past month. Some even filed a warrant of prohibitory injunction against this action,” he said.
Despite all this, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced a new set of measures earlier today, including the closure of all restaurants and snack bars until 11th April. This comes in light of a record-breaking week of COVID-19 cases, including the single highest number of cases today at 362.
“The MTA can only inspect catering establishments, we can’t enter private homes or private events. Yet we still accept these reports and pass them on to the police or public health officials to investigate,” Buttigiegeg ended.
Following the announcement of new measures, the Association for Catering Establishments, which represents several restaurants, issued a strongly-worded statement suggesting that its members delay payments to preferential creditors, warning the sector has been turned into a “sacrificial lamb”.
“Health authorities bullied small micro-enterprises yet did not address the real problem and known regular breaches were left engaging in illegal practices,” the association said.
What do you make of this? Let us know below