New measures requiring all visitors and client-facing staff at hospitality establishments to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 come into force today.
The health authority guidelines outlining the measures, published at the 11th hour last week and summarised by BusinessNow.mt, state that it is the responsibility of staff at bars, restaurants, social clubs and snack bars, amongst others, to check for a valid vaccine certificate before allowing patrons to enter.
Staff working in direct contact with patrons also need to be vaccinated. However, there is an exemption period up to 1st February, after which they need to be in possession of a valid vaccination certificate.
Staff not in direct contact with patrons can be exempted from providing a vaccination certificate at the workplace.
Establishments found to be allowing unvaccinated people to enter will be liable to the payment of a fine of €500 for every instance of the rules being breached.
The requirement for social distancing in the above establishments has been removed, with tables no longer needing to be two metres apart from each other.
Meanwhile, the wearing of masks outdoors for vaccinated groups smaller than two people is no longer mandatory.
Reactions to the new measures have been less than positive among Malta’s leading business lobbies.
In a press release last Friday, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) slammed the measures, calling them a “hammer blow” to the industry.
“Clearly, the Government does not appreciate the challenges we face on a daily basis to run the businesses,” the MHRA said.
The Association of Catering Establishments (ACE) focused on the impact the new measure will have on staffing levels, calling the perceived vigilance on staff “unfair.”
On the other hand, Marisa Xuereb, President of the Malta Chamber, presented a much more positive outlook on the announcement, focusing on the lifting of some capacity restrictions on restaurants, stating her belief that this would only be possible because everyone present, including staff and visitors, would be fully vaccinated.
Last week, the Nationalist Party called for the measures to be scrapped, while a protest against the new measures held in Valletta on Sunday, organised by the right-wing Popular Party and the Freedom Movement, attracted a crowd of hundreds.
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