A number of leading Maltese chefs and restaurant owners have gone public with major concerns about reopening their establishments following the easing of restrictive measures in Malta.
Nicholas Diacono from Fat Louie’s and New York Bistro has said that while each restaurant needs to take its own decision, he’s decided to keep serving on a take-away and delivery basis only.
“Although we respect everyone’s own decisions and wish them all the best, we have decided not to open to the public for the time being and continue to operate only through take away or pick up,” Diacono said today.
“We also want to make sure that by the time we open we will have all the right measures in place for the safety of our staff and the customers,” he continued.
“Safety comes first, let’s do this right.”
Crust Bakery’s Sean Gravina broke down the very real rent and financial costs that restaurants were facing – and how yesterday’s measures on disallowing restaurants from utilising their full floorspace could only make things worse.
Saying that landlords “aren’t really budging” on collecting their rent, he pointed out the increased pressure on restaurants to perform when they aren’t even allowed to use their indoor space.
“This measure is very dangerous, and if we don’t work on it, we are going to have problems,” Gravina said.
“We cannot have a situation where we do not use the whole property. Otherwise, the financial costs will increase and get worse. If we can utilise the inside and outside, and keep with the health measures, we open and work – otherwise, we might as well not even open,” he continued.
He referred to a new measure urging restaurants to use their outdoor spaces if they have them, and not use their indoor spaces. If an eatery only had indoor space, they could use it under strict conditions – something Gravina pointed out as not making sense.
“This isn’t a complaint against the Malta Tourism Authority or the government,” he said, “but I don’t think it makes much sense for a restaurant, especially these big ones, to use the terrace only. Because it’ll only make things worse, not better.
“I don’t want to panic people, but it is the truth.”
He called for authorities to “clarify and fix the situation as soon as possible”.
Another restauranter who spoke to Lovin Malta said the new measures were drawing major differences between restaurants with indoor and outdoor spaces.
Some restaurants have suddenly found themselves forced to work on a tiny terrace or outdoor space, while others can make use of their indoor space.
“This is hugely discriminatory, especially when we are all trying to survive,” she said.
Their reactions come after the government announced that restaurants could reopen this Friday under new conditions.
Waiters and other workers must wear a face mask or visor at all times, and tables need to be two metres apart from each other when outside, and three metres apart when inside.
Diners must also sit two meters apart from each other, and it is as yet unclear whether customers will need to wear face masks while dining as well.
Restaurants who want to open must fill out a form and get a MTA-certified sticker of compliance. Following this, the restaurant’s must fill out a daily form. They will be open to random spot checks by MTA officials, and if a restaurant is found to breach measures twice, it will be shut down.