With a dearth of tourists and a large set of health measures to follow, several Maltese restaurants are struggling to make ends meet.
Mtarfa mayor Daniel Attard has proposed a solution aimed at alleviating their burden, urging the health authorities to allow restaurants to place tables closer to each other if they’re separated by plexiglass barriers.
As it stands, tables must be kept at least two metres away from each other, which ultimately means restaurants can cater to fewer people than they used to before the pandemic.
“Several restaurant owners are finding it extremely tough to make ends meet and some are on the brink of failure,” Attard said. “I know some restaurants are being inspected three to four times every week, with inspectors checking whether the distance between tables is two or three metres.”
“The end result is that a room which can cater for fifty people can now only cater for eight or twelve, with disastrous consequences for restaurants and their relatives, and the risk that all the sacrifices they have taken will ultimately have been in vain.”
“Moreover, the huge financial problems they’re facing are causing serious mental health and life problems, with tensions arising between couples and families that could break them apart.”
He proposed plexiglass barriers as a solution, a measure which is already being used in countries such as Italy, Canada, France and the Netherlands, to allow restaurants to place tables closer to each other without customers being exposed to COVID-19 risks by people sitting at other tables.
“This is already being implemented inside offices and other places where people spend way more time next to each other,” he said. “If needs be, precautions and inspections can increase but let’s be reasonable and not let more people go under because they’re victims of the pandemic too.”