Bar

According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne, 40 restaurants and bars have applied to participate in a controversial scheme allowing them to relax certain COVID measures if they agree to only accept vaccinated customers.

Around 25 of these establishments have already been accepted for the scheme, he said on Tuesday, answering questions from journalists.

In September, Mr Fearne announced that new rules for the sector would allow for establishments to relax a number of rules if they accept only vaccinated people.

The scheme came into effect on Saturday, and participating establishments must apply for certification from the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), which will verify their compliance with the new protocols.

These include shorter distances between tables, a larger number of people per table, and in the case of bars, the resumption of bar service.

Establishments must apply to benefit from the relaxed protocols, and all their staff must be fully vaccinated.

Initial feedback from the hospitality sector was mixed, with restaurants and bars giving mixed reactions to the scheme in comments to BusinessNow.mt, with some saying the ongoing staff shortage would not allow them to expand capacity anyway, and others looking forward to returning to profitability.

According to Minister Fearne, the new rules have proven more popular among larger establishments, for whom the scheme offers more to gain than those smaller venues restricted by unrelated licence limits.

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