There are 31 establishments that have authorisation from the Lands Authority to encroach on public space with their tables and chairs.

The information emerged on Monday (yesterday) when it was tabled in Parliament by Minister for Lands Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.

He was replying to a question posed by Opposition MP Chris Said.

Valletta is at the centre of a nation-wide phenomenon that has seen restaurant canopies sprout from pavements and parking spaces as the trend for al fresco dining gathers pace – though critics argue that the result is often simply the privatisation of once-public space, to the detriment of residents and pedestrians.

Earlier this year, a video showed an ambulance being forced to slowly squeeze past tables and chairs in Valletta as restaurants’ encroachments took up most of the street.

Tourism representatives have also called for balance, saying that while outdoor structures for dining can boost Malta’s attractiveness, it needs to be better regulated.

Featured Image:

A restaurant’s encroachment on Merchants Street / Arnold Cassola / Facebook

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