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Malta continues phased, cautious reopening

Malta continues phased, cautious reopening

Restaurants and snack bars will be allowed to serve guests in-house from 10 May, among other changes

Keeping a watchful eye on the epidemiological situation, the government of Malta presses ahead with easing more Covid-related restrictions ahead of the summer season. Following the reopening of schools, non-essential stores and services, and increasing to 4 the number of people allowed to gather in public, catering establishments can also take a breath of relief.

Restaurants to reopen with limited hours  

Prime Minister Robert Abela announced at a press conference last Sunday, summarized by TVM, that from 10 May restaurants and snack bars will be able to serve guests in-house, but only until 5pm. The hospitality establishments can continue operating on a takeaway basis afterwards. A maximum of four persons will be permitted at each table.

Dr Abela defended the caveats by saying that the government was trying to steer the country gradually back to normality while not jeopardizing what had been achieved so far. He added that discussions with the health authorities had produced agreement on more restrictions to be lifted from 10 May.

Further changes at a glance

  • Contact professional sport activities may resume. Non-contact sport will continue without spectators.
  • Education on arts and extra-curricular activities and cathecism lessons may continue.
  • Street markets will reopen.
  • Travel restrictions between Malta and Gozo will be removed.

Reacting to the announcements, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) said the relaxation of restaurant restrictions has helped alleviate uncertainty in the hospitality sector. However, it insisted that the new conditions will not be of much help to most restaurants and may endanger jobs and future investment in the sector.

"It's positive that we now have a date for the reopening of restaurants," MHRA President Tony Zahra said, quoted by Malta Today, "but opening only for lunch does not make business sense for the majority of restaurants.” 

“Many restaurants will continue to remain under a lot of pressure and our appeal to Government is to allow restaurants to serve dinner too whilst ensuring proper enforcement measures to guarantee that rules are abided for by all.

Highest EU rate of fully vaccinated adults

The prospects for Malta’s reopening look increasingly promising thanks to the country’s fast-paced vaccination programme. The latest statistics released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show that as of Sunday 40 percent of Malta's adult population has received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Within the European Union, this places the island second behind Hungary, where 42 percent of the people have received their first shot.

Regarding the full vaccination performance, however, Malta emerges as EU leader, with 21 percent of its adult population having received two doses. Hungary and Denmark come next with 18 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Malta’s health workers had administered 313,279 doses of COVID-19 vaccine until Sunday, of which 100,686 were second doses. 

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