Three weeks on from the reopening of restaurants in the daytime, and one week since they were permitted to reopen for evenings, President of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) Tony Zahra has given a positive outlook of COVID protocol compliance.
Mr Zahra who, as Malta’s second wave of the virus raced out of control, frequently criticised a crisis of enforcement and compliance in a minority of restaurants tells BusinessNow.mt that the situation seems better.
The MHRA, he says, has not received any serious complaints from members regarding a breach of COVID-related protocols and, as such, he thinks that “protocols are largely being obeyed”.
He describes a “general understanding” that the protocols are in place to ensure a continued safe reopening of the hospitality industry and wider economy.
These protocols, restaurants understand, are necessary to avoid another closure and a reversion to a possibly damaging “stop-start” lockdown situation, where businesses are once again forced to close.
“As an industry”, he says, “we want to ensure that this time there won’t be a reclosure”.
With Malta’s COVID cases seemingly largely under control, and the country continuing to reopen, many will be hoping that Mr Zahra is vindicated in his optimism.
Health Authorities remain adamant about the need for a gradual, controlled reopening of the country, including its hospitality venues.
Bars are set to reopen next week, with stringent measures in place to try to limit the spread of the virus, including a limit of six people per table, a midnight closing time, regular hand sanitising, and only table service.
In an additional, highly controversial limitation, protocols have so far banned loud music and DJs from performing at those venues allowed to open, in an effort to prevent additional virus spread from people talking loudly.
As the country continues to reopen, Mr Zahra is hopeful that things will continue going smoothly, although he does encourage caution.
“With restaurants, it is easy to control, but bars are a different kettle of fish”, he says. With people drinking, it is harder to keep them seated and socially distanced, he warns.
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