The Association of Catering Establishments (ACE) has described the current COVID-19 measures as “a huge blow to the catering industry” and said that Health Minister Chris Fearne is playing Russian roulette with restaurant owners.
“The COVID-19 measures that came into force on 17th January are yet again another blow to the catering industry,” it said.
“Once again the Ministry for Health has shown that it is detached from reality and yet again is playing Russian roulette with the livelihood of restauranteurs.”
“With these new measures, the Deputy Prime Minister further compounded the miserable situation of human resources and many staff are leaving the industry once again since one does not need to be vaccinated in other industries,” it explained.
It also lamented that the catering industry has already been facing staffing problems due to measures taken by the same Ministry, and described the measures as incentives for further staff to leave the industry.
“The case is not only with third-country nationals but also with Europeans whereby other European countries accept vaccines such as Sputnik. A survey done by ACE indicates that 14% of restaurants have staff has been vaccinated by sputnik or other non-EMA recognized vaccine,” it explained.
“In a survey conducted by ACE, more than one-third of restaurants have one or more frontline staff who is not vaccinated. These persons may work in other industries without problems but not in the catering industry which is further impacting on the exodus of human resources from the catering industry due to this discriminatory requirement.”
It also described the standards published as highly insensible to realities, “including the fact that there are vaccinated staff with vaccines that are not EMA recognised”.
“Are employers being asked to push employees to take another vaccine or are they being asked to increase the problem of staffing by sending people back to their country?” it questioned.
It also unveiled that the industry has already lost 19 per cent of its operators, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It must also be noted that the industry is also suffering from a blatant abuse of the new quarantine rules,” it continued.
In light of this, the ACE is also recommending that the quarantine period be changed to five days for everyone and can be deducted from vacation leave.
Apart from the previous issues raised, it also pointed out that the CovPassApp is not compatible with all devices, which is leading to an influx of complaints, therefore burdening the catering establishments on an administrative level.
“Since the Ministry of Health on various occasions stated that we have reached herd immunity at unique levels in the EU, the measures in place are useless and are only endangering the livelihood of people,” it said.
“If the Ministry of Health wants to impose vaccination then it should take responsibility for it and not put the burden on businesses.”
It also pushed for the different vaccinations that are now being accepted in other EU countries but not in Malta, which are again impacting the industry on multiple levels.
Do you agree with the Association of Catering Establishments?