Malta’s Association of Catering Establishments (ACE) has urged the Government to reopen restaurants as soon as possible, because “these were never the main source of spread of the pandemic”.
Issuing a statement after Prime Minister Robert Abela detailed a strategy for the reopening of the country after its quasi-lockdown, the ACE acknowledges that the plan is clearly aimed at “ensuring the implementation of the Tourism Recovery Plan”.
However, it says, “the plan forgot that an important element is the entertainment industry, specifically restaurants, given the fact that it is clear that these were never the main source of spread of the pandemic”.
Indeed, the ACE has repeatedly blamed the “behaviour of the few” as leading to increases in COVID numbers.
Responding to the initial announcement of restrictions in March, it accused Government authorities of failing to “address the bullies,” and singles out the Health Authority as “very weak in handling the situation”, and without an “adequate strategy”.
Before the Government announced the sweeping measures, which closed restaurants for everything except takeaway orders, the ACE said that an irresponsible few attending social gatherings and mass activities in unlicensed places, as well as private households, were “jeopardising all the sacrifices and efforts”
With Wednesday’s statement, the organisation echoed these statements, decrying that, “if the authorities are unable to take action on the few criminals it is unfair that genuine entrepreneurs, employees and their families are suffering for no reason.”
“In the circumstances, ACE calls for the reopening of catering establishments and other services.”
Addressing the long-awaited second round of COVID vouchers, which Dr Abela has said will be issued once all shops and services are allowed to reopen, the ACE said that along with the reopening of restaurants, it is imperative that “vouchers are issued immediately in order to kick start the economy and welcome [tourists] in a safe vibrant alive country.”
“The ACE believes that further measures will be needed in order to turn around the economy in the medium to long term. The ACE is in discussion with the Government of Malta in order to ensure long-term sustainability in the sector,” it said.
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