A wine bar in Balzan has lambasted Malta’s latest crackdown on bars, pointing out its hypocrisy when restaurants are allowed to operate normally.
Fra Giuseppe is a wine bar nestled against the Balzan parish church. It boasts a selection of over 100 wines and serves a number of dishes like pizza, pasta and platters.
Under new restrictions, the bar won’t be allowed to serve any alcohol.
“As a registered snack bar, we can remain open until 11pm but we cannot serve any wine. And yet, restaurants can go ahead as usual. It’s just really unfair,” Yan Drago, who owns Fra Guiseppe told Lovin Malta.
From this Thursday, Malta’s bars must close their doors until 1st December to curb soaring COVID-19 cases. Kiosks and snack bars like Yan Drago’s are allowed to remain open, but they can’t sell any kind of alcoholic beverage and must close down between 11pm and 5am the following morning.
Restaurants are still permitted to continue serving booze with meals.
“We follow every single COVID-19 restrictions down to a T. We have the exact same set up as a restaurant, but we don’t serve fancy food and for that, we’re being penalised,” he continued.
Drago said the measure would mean his business, which employs eight full-time workers, would have no choice but to join bars in the month lockdown.
“There’s no point in staying open like this, unless people suddenly enjoy non-alcoholic wine and beer,” he said.
Alternatively, Drago is looking to convert his wine bar into a cafe to remain open.
But the uncertainty of the coming months is fuelling the snack bar owner’s fears about the fate of his business. Despite this, he remains adamant about keeping all his staff employed.
“It’s not easy in this climate, especially with high rent prices.”
To add to the injury, the government’s rent subsidy for businesses to stay afloat in the pandemic expires by the end of the year, while the wage subsidy is up for revisions in March 2021.
“I’m just angry and upset. I have staff with families here and a family of my own too,” he said.
Drago is not the only bar owner calling out the abruptly-announced measures. Only time will tell us which bars will survive another forced closure.
What do you think of the latest measures?