A Buġibba bar owner faces the possibility of closing his establishment forever if the government doesn’t go through with its promise to allow them to reopen soon.
On 1st February, bars and każini are expected to reopen after being forced to close after five months due to a rise in cases of coronavirus.
However, five months after the legal directive, Malta continues to record its highest number of cases, putting any hope that bars might reopen next week in doubt.
“It will probably finish us altogether. What we’re getting from the COVID-19 wage supplement is not enough to live off,” said Andrew, owner of Shamrock & Thistle in Buġibba.
“What annoys me is that restaurants are open and are acting like bars – people aren’t buying food, they’re just buying drinks,” he said.
The legal directive forces bars and każini to stay closed. Restaurants, which don’t possess a snack bar license, are allowed to stay open.
That has forced people like Andrew to watch over helpless as their business goes elsewhere.
“We have to pay the same amount of money for a license as they do and we’re being charged extra because we are in a tourist area,” he continued.
“We’re struggling and the wage supplement seems to be going down each month, it’s not enough to live off.”
According to Andrew, him and his wife are receiving an approximate €800 per month, much of which goes towards rent. Another issue is the fact that the wage supplement doesn’t arrive on the same day each month, causing some friction between him and his landlord.
“They sent the wrong amount in the email this month which is going to slow down things even more,” he said.
On top of all of that, Andrew still has to pay the landlord €500 a month for the lease on the bar and faces a great deal of uncertainty not knowing if he will be allowed to open again next month.
“When I open I will have to restock again because everything will be out of date. It will cost me another €400.”
For the time being, all he can do is wait to find out what his fate will be. If the Health Ministry decides to extend the shutdown period, it could spell the end of his bar.
“They wait until the last minute to tell you that they are shutting down. Last time we were up to clean the place when we found out, thankfully we didn’t buy any stock,” he ended.
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