A legal requirement for catering establishments, gyms, cinemas, pools and other businesses to check all those who enter for their vaccine status is causing a highly uncomfortable situation with customers for those same establishments subject to the new rules.

One owner of a major cafeteria, who wished to stay anonymous due to the backlash the business is already facing from some members of the public, said it is ridiculous that the responsibility to enforce the new rules has essentially fallen on businesses, who risk a €500 fine every instance somebody without a valid vaccine certificate is caught inside their establishment.

“For small establishments its more workable, but for large ones like us it has caused a massive headache. The law should penalise members of the public for breaching the rules, and not businesses, which have had a hard enough time over the past two years to maintain operations.”

It should be pointed out that by the end of this week, it is being projected that 70 per cent of Malta’s adult population received their booster dose.

Indeed, since the new law came into force on Monday, several reports have come in of disgruntled members of the public, calling out restaurants or cafeterias for barring those without a valid vaccine certificate from entry.

In the below screengrab, one member of the public is asking for a lawyer recommendation to sue a café for barring him and his wife entry the day the new rules came into force.

Another restaurant owner shared complaints received with one disgruntled customer threatening to never eat at their establishment again for following the rules:

Some businesses are facing flak for not serving customers outside in the street with take-away. One customer took to social media to complain that a Gzira eatery would not take their order outside in the street and bring them their food at the door:

The few businesses choosing to close their doors to in-house dining in protest of the new rules are being praised by some but is not a solution for most businesses being faced with opposition for following the rules.

The new requirements for entry, and for client-facing staff to be fully vaccinated, is another obstacle for some businesses to navigate, and has overshadowed the joy that was initially expressed at the two-metre distancing rule inside those same establishments being lifted as a counter-measure to the new rules.

Indeed, half of catering establishments responding to a new survey by the Association of Catering Establishments (ACE) indicated they will be forced to reduce operations due to the Government’s new requirement for client-facing staff to be vaccinated against COVID, the organisation revealed on Thursday.

Furthermore, more than one third of restaurants have one or more front-line staff members who have not been vaccinated, according to the survey.

Only 36 per cent of respondents said they would be able to continue their operations as usual, while a significant 14 per cent stated they would be completely closing pending changes in the measures, laying bare the controversiality of the new rules.

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