One week before restaurants are set to reopen to in-house dining with a 5pm curfew, updated protocols have yet to be released by Malta’s health authorities as at 4pm on Monday (today).
On 10th May, restaurants, snack bars and kiosks will reopen to inhouse dining after being permitted to only serve take-out and deliveries since 5th March.
Malta is in the midst of a staggered reopening from a quasi-lockdown imposed in response to spiralling daily COVID transmission rates. Now that rates have come down dramatically, and the country eyes 1st June as its target date for reopening to international tourism, businesses are slowly having restrictions lifted.
A fortnight ago, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced the limited reopening of restaurants and snack bars, where a 5pm curfew was imposed with a maximum of four diners allowed to sit at each table, in line with the limit of four persons allowed to gather in public.
On 10th May, training for professional contact sports may re-commence, while non-contact sports can resume without spectators. While updated protocols were released on Monday for the sports activities sector, restaurants have yet to receive theirs.
The last set of protocols released for restaurants was in February 2021, when it was announced that restaurants would have a midnight curfew. Prior to the closure of in-house dining in March, restaurants were permitted to serve groups of no more than 10 with tables to be spaced three metres apart. For outdoor dining, distance between tables was set at 2 metres.
While many understood the need for such measures, it was stressed that the already thin profit margins meant that the distancing protocols made it difficult to turn a profit. Indeed, in response to the 5pm curfew, some restaurateurs have contemplated introducing a service charge on top of the final bill, a move that has received little support from Malta’s restaurant lobbies.
Superintendent of Public Health last Friday, in response to questions from the press, said that snack bars and kiosks will be permitted to serve alcohol, which will presumably be the case for restaurants too.
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