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The hospitality industry is waiting with bated breath after both Prime Minister Robert Abela and Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne this weekend shared when the country can expect restrictions to be lifted.

Speaking at a Labour Party event in Nadur, Gozo, on Sunday, Prime Minister Abela said that since there has been such a high uptake of the vaccine, and the booster, Government is in a position to start removing more restrictions from the first week of February.

“Spring will be good and summer will bring about a lot of work in tourism and other sectors”, the Prime Minister said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne, at a separate event, said the Government would announce the plan for current restrictions to start to be lifted at some point this week, without giving further detail.

At this stage, a valid vaccine certificate is required to enter bars, restaurants, gyms, cinemas, pools, fitness centres and other hospitality, catering and leisure establishments. Inside restaurants and eateries, table distancing restrictions have been lifted to counter the vaccine requirement to enter.

In addition, standing events are currently banned, and only those with a valid vaccine certificate, up to two people, can be in public without a mask.

Quarantine periods have been reduced to 10 days for those who are boosted.

Reacting to the developments, Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) president said:

“Over the course of the past two years there have been numerous false starts and deep disappointment as we returned to various lockdowns, but there is a strong belief this time is different. We will continue to work closely with the highest authorities to focus on solutions, and to bring forth the voice of the tourism and hospitality sector in a constructive manner.”

Expressing support at COVID-19 being treated as an endemic virus rather than a pandemic, he added:

 “We face tomorrow with hope and optimism that the worst is behind us, and brighter days are ahead. We must work towards a better future in ensuring that we, as a sector, never have to endure the hardship that we have experienced for the last two years.

“Staff and customer safety will continue to be paramount for us, but we are now breathing a sigh of relief as Government is recognizing the need to relieve the hospitality sector from restrictions in the shortest time possible.”

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