Nearly exactly one year after COVID-19 hit Malta’s shores (this weekend is the one year anniversary), the government has announced that restaurants must close from tomorrow and can only offer takeaways to diners.
The news came as a shock for the dining sector on the island, with many restaurants having spent thousands to get their establishments in line with COVID-19 directives over the last year. Bars and snack bars have been closed for months – and while most restaurants complied with directives, some didn’t, leading to anger within the industry.
However, now that all restaurants are closed at least until 11th April, many have had to take stock of their new situation…
1. Chef Rafel Sammut of Briju expressed solidarity with everyone affected by the measures, and said to use the time to come up with new ideas for when restaurants reopen.
2. And Valletta’s Michelin-starred Noni’s head chef Jonathan Brincat announced that the restaurant will be closing temporarily.
“Here we go again!! As done before will do whatever it takes to keep our team united and thriving.”
3. Yanica Xuereb from Ylee’s Snack Bar in Gudja lamented how the industry’s “sacrifices and hard work” over the last 12 months had now been undone.
4. And Avotaco’s Andre Camilleri called out Prime Minister Robert Abela for giving the country false hope that by May things would be back to normal.
5. L’Agape’s Chris Gherxi wonder how this new measure would affect workers in the restaurant industry and their families who rely on them.
6. And a couple of leading chefs also urged people to keep calm and not panic, though one gave a special shout-out to people who hadn’t followed the mitigation measures.
Townhouse 43’s Malcolm Bartolo sarcastically thanked everyone who had ignored mitigation measures and led to such a high number of COVID-19 cases.
Burger.Inks’ Daniel Grech called for people to remain calm and not panic.
7. Overall, there was a sense of disappointment, with many who had hoped for a drop in active cases now left feeling deflated and slightly confused.
8. One of Malta’s leading restaurant lobby groups said the sector has been turned into a “sacrificial lamb”.
Lovin Malta asked the public how they felt about today’s measures in a poll – though initially close, slightly more people disagreed with the measures at time of publishing.
As restaurants are set to not let in any clients for the foreseeable future, dining out in Malta will become another thing given up in the battle against this virus. Let’s just hope that with these measures, Malta truly exits the pandemic sooner.
Cover photo credit: Malcolm Bartolo