A leading restaurateur has been left feeling like he’s between a rock and a hard place as new COVID-19 entry rules for establishments come into effect today – rules he needs to implement, even though he faces backlash from some segments of his clientele.
“Don’t discriminate – these rules won’t stop the virus from being transmitted, lift these regulations before 50% of Malta’s restaurants need to close down,” Bjorn Bartolo, owner of Manouche Craft Bakery and Bistro, told Lovin Malta Monday evening after new rules regarding entry into establishments came into effect.
After investing thousands just this week in new technology in each of the company’s outlets around Malta, today they saw a major decrease in sales. However, closing shop – like some other restaurants have chosen to do – isn’t an option for Bartolo, with 60 full time employees working at Manouche.
Worse still is the fact that customers who can no longer enter Manouche are now attacking the restaurant for following the law.
“Workers at restaurants are scared – if you follow the rules, you get backlash; and if you don’t follow the rules, you’ll get fired – there’s no winning, whatever you do, you lose,” he lamented.
Though hundreds of protestors took to Valletta over the weekend, only a handful showed up at a protest against tyranny held in Valletta this morning. However, clients have been bombarding the business, telling them they have an option to send a message to the government – by closing shop.
“We just can’t afford it though,” he said. “We’ve just gone from 35 to 60 employees, just opened two new outlets… and now all this is happening.”
Bartolo made it clear that he didn’t agree with the regulations, though he was implementing them.
“We are not for these regulations: it is madness, it is insane… we have been left speechless, and this is discrimination against the people out there. You can’t impose this on someone… and to stop them from going to gyms, bars, restaurants as a result…. This isn’t North Korea, even though that’s what it is starting to feel like.”
While making it clear that he wasn’t saying the COVID-19 vaccine was not useful, he wondered if the government’s forceful approach to implementing rules was the best way forward.
“The protests are merited, we don’t agree with these rules,” he said. “We are paying, even though we are following the rules.”
Do you agree with the new rules that came into effect in Malta today?