After a long time of almost complete inactivity, Paceville started resembling its old self yesterday after Malta reopened bars from their seven-month shutdown.
Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions mean that clubbing is still outlawed, forcing nightclubs to transform themselves into de facto lounges, while a midnight curfew meant the fun had to stop earlier than pre-pandemic usual.
However, several people, locals and tourists alike, turned up nevertheless, injecting some life into the nightlife haven.
Philip Fenech, the deputy head of the Chambers of SMEs, patrolled Paceville on its big reopening day, speaking to establishment operators and observing the scenes himself.
He said that while the crowds weren’t what they used to be prior to the pandemic, there was a feeling of excitement and hope in the air.
“Staff and management alike said they felt like their life had come back again,” Fenech told Lovin Malta. “For them, it’s not just a job, but a lifestyle and they live off each other’s energy.”
He said establishments were largely following the COVID-19 restrictions, with security guards making clients wait in queues outside once the building had reached its set capacity.
A number of DJs, who are now allowed to perform if they keep the music at 70dBs, were also seen enforcing the rules, stopping the music when they saw people stand up from their tables and start dancing.
“I saw two DJs do this,” Fenech said. “People then started booing or singing during those gaps of no music, and the DJ would continue playing after they sat back down.”
However, despite the feel-good factor returning to Paceville, establishments are facing staff shortages, with Fenech describing the problem as “extremely prevalent” in the industry.
“They all had to hire more staff to adhere to the new protocols, such as table service for drinks and more security to control the people coming in, and this at a time when finding staff is an issue seeing as many foreigners left Malta during the pandemic to be with their families or because they lost their job.”
“At the same time, their turnover is very depleted compared to what it used to be due to restrictions on hype and capacity and because the midnight curfew means they lost four hours of their trade.”
“Also, those big nightlife venues which cater for hundreds and thousands of people and have been closed since last August are still waiting earnestly and are feeling left out.”
“Notwithstanding all of this, the industry has a high level of resilience and everyone was feeling rejuvenated, full of energy, and looking forward to eventually returning to their normal trading hours and getting their old capacity back.”