Spiralling rent and operational costs could drive Maltese restaurants out of business unless a concerted effort to avoid that situation is undertaken, a Maltese hospitality industry group has warned.
“The costs that catering establishments are subject to are not sustainable at this stage,” the Association for Catering Establishments said.
“The fact that many landlords have either not reduced rents or the fact that those who reduced it during the closure will now want rent to return to normal is a major issue,” they continued.
Their statement came after the government announced the sudden reopening of restaurants this coming Friday, under a number of conditions. While some welcomed the reopening as a sign of market confidence and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, other restauranters spoke up about the serious challenges they were facing.
The high rent and operational costs coupled with new restrictions not allowing many restaurants from using their indoor space, alongside new forms and permits, had made reopening unfeasible for some.
The fact that many people are still not ready to dine out means a lower number of customers, which the Association noted: “the level of consumption expected will not justify either the costs of personnel, water and electricity nor MTA permits amongst others.”
The ACE welcomed the decision to open outdoor dining, saying it was “an important decision that will allow slow recovery… to re-establish consumer confidence.”
Saying there would “obviously be some teething challenges”, they called on the government to extend the wage supplement by a further two months beyond June 2020, after which the government could re-assess the situation.