A student organisation has publicly apologised after a Valletta restaurant cancelled a recent event due to a stated requirement that all attendees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The European Studies Organisation (ESO) had planned a meet-and-greet session for students at La Bottega last Thursday, with the Facebook event stating all attendees must be in possession of a full COVID-19 vaccination certificate.
Concerned that this rule amounted to discriminated, some students flagged this event with activists sceptical of COVID-19 rules, who proceeded to complain to the restaurant.
In a message seen by Lovin Malta, La Bottega responded that it had no idea ESO had only invited vaccinated people, that it accepts both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and that it was therefore cancelling the event.
Contacted by Lovin Malta, ESO said its event rules should have stated that unvaccinated people can attend if they present a negative PCR test.
“ESO wishes to state that it has always looked, in its organization of post-pandemic events, to maintain and protect the health of all its attendees,” a spokesperson said. “This has led to the framing of the requirement of vaccination certificates, failing to include within its published rules the equivalent requirement of a PCR Test.”
“Despite this oversight, ESO would like to clarify that it is in fact not true that it has ever turned away any unvaccinated person, and that no unvaccinated person has asked to attend its events.”
“ESO would like to emphasise that it has no problem accepting non-vaccinated people, willing to present a PCR test, and we will ensure that this is clear in its published requirements for its next event.”
In a Facebook post, the student organisation also wholeheartedly apologised to anyone who may have felt discriminated against.
Malta recently rolled out a new regime for restaurants, bars and other establishments, allowing them to loosen certain restrictions if they restrict access to fully vaccinated people.
The Association of Catering Establishments (ACE) has criticised the new rule, warning that an internal survey among its members found that around 90% of operators are unwilling to restrict access to vaccinated people.
However, Chamber of SMEs deputy president Philip Fenech has defended the rules, arguing that the vaccine is effective and that the government’s current approach of removing restrictions layer by layer is the only strategy that has given the country concrete results so far.
Cover photo: Left: ESO, Right: Stock photo
Do you think restaurants should restrict access to vaccinated people?