The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) has urged the government to exempt hospitality industry workers from tax on overtime, while also urging authorities to avoid any U-turns or conflicting messaging when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions.
The MHRA’s statement follows Malta being placed on the EU’s red travel list as a result of a sharp increase in the number of active cases in recent weeks. The number of people known to be infected with the virus has increased from under 100 to nearly 2,000 in under two weeks.
The increase in cases has seen Malta moved from the EU’s green travel list to its red travel list. But despite the large number of active cases the number of hospitalisations resulting from infection with the virus remains low, with 18 people being admitted to hospital. One patient is presently in intensive care.
In a statement this afternoon, the MHRA urged authorities to base their COVID-19 policies on the number of hospitalisations, and not the number of active cases, adding that all possible efforts should be made to “complete [Malta’s] vaccination drive in order to get every resident in Malta protected”.
“The situation, however, still remains complex, and any miscommunication or U-turns leave a significant negative impact both on the image of the Maltese islands as a destination of choice for tourists, and on the bottom line of hotel and restaurant operations,” the MHRA said.
It appealed for the government to “work closer with stakeholders” in order to face the COVID-19 challenge, which has done “unprecedented damage” to the country’s economy.
“The MHRA appeals to the government to align its COVID-19 policy direction to the number of infected patients recovering in hospital and not those who do not need hospitalisation,” the association said.
While it called for hospitalisations to be the basis of the government’s policy, the MHRA said that efforts should nonetheless continue to reduce the number of active cases in order for the country to be shifted back on the EU’s green list.
Finally, it pointed out that a labour shortage in the industry was still of great concern, calling upon the government to exempt tax on overtime and part-time revenues earned by employees working in the tourism, travel and hospitality sector.
“Indeed, we need to do all that is necessary to attract and retain employees working in the tourism industry, even during such difficult times. If we get this wrong, then the repercussions can be serious,” the MHRA said.
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