Malta’s new ban on snack bars from selling alcohol will force wine bars to shut their doors, the owner of one of Malta’s most popular wine bars has warned.
“I have a restaurant and a wine bar, which is classified as a snack bar by law,” Kris Fenech Soler, who owns the Trabuxu wine bar in Valletta and the nearby Trabuxu Bistro, told Lovin Malta.
“This new law means my wine bar won’t be allowed to serve alcohol and will have to close its doors at 11pm, while my restaurant down the road will be able to keep serving alcohol and remain open till the early hours of the morning.”
He said that while he understands the government’s decision to introduce new restrictions, the ones introduced yesterday don’t make sense, particularly since some restaurants are operating as bars in the early hours of the morning.
Viewed through that perspective, this new restriction is basically killing off the competition of restaurants who double up as bars.
“Who’s going to come to a wine bar if they’re not allowed to drink wine? The government should have either told me to close down directly or let me keep serving alcohol, at least until 11pm. This new law is just closing people like me down indirectly and has created anger and problems.”
Far Giuseppe wine bar owner Yan Drago has also called out these new COVID-19 restrictions, warning his establishment is essentially being penalised for not serving fancy food.
Philip Fenech, the deputy head of the Chambers of SMEs, has called for clarity over the new rules.
“Why can’t snack bars serve alcohol with their meals just as restaurants do?” he questioned. “I’m not encouraging drinking patterns in any way, but what’s the difference between having a drink along with a meal at a restaurant and at a snack bar?”
“Restaurants are also confused whether they can serve alcohol themselves, and this requires clarification.”
He also questioned why all każini have been forced to shut down, not only the drinking holes but those operating as restaurants.
“I’ve been inundated with such calls,” he said.
However, Fenech urged establishments not to try and find loopholes but to understand why these restrictions have been imposed.
“The majority of businesses understand the COVID-19 situation despite the serious economic repercussions,” he said. “It doesn’t mean this isn’t a hardship for them but deep down, most of us know it requires a national concerted effort.”
“There’s still a small percentage of businesses who try to be devious and work around the laws, but this shows they just don’t get it.”
Cover photos: Left: Kris Fenech Soler, Right: Trabuxu Wine Bar