“We’re hanging by a thread” – restaurateurs appeal for prudence and responsible behaviour

On the first Sunday since restaurants started serving take-away food, Television Malta spoke to two restaurant owners, who recounted the challenges they are going through due to the decision announced by the Authorities in the past few days, for restaurants to close down.

Restaurant owners have called for the financial sacrifice of thousands of businesses not to be undermined by the irresponsible behaviour of the few. They are looking forward to the Summer when they are hoping to recoup, after the vaccination and the increase in tourists visiting Malta.

For the second time in a year, the restaurants had to close their doors, and are now only open for take-away food orders, due to the measures announced by the authorities to control the spread of Covid-19.

Aaaron Degabrielie, a restaurant owner in Valletta, told Television Malta that this was another blow to food establishments like his that were adhering to the rules and were diligent. Although their efforts have been in vain, he hopes to get back on track again when summer arrives.

“I want to see tourists this summer. We are barely surviving, but with a few tourists we hope for better days. It saddens us because we made great sacrifices and yet there were still those who threw us under the bus because they did not follow the same rules. ”

Mr Degabriele said Valletta has o about 200 food and beverage establishments and for these tourist are essential. For now he is trying to make-do with takeaways.

He appealed for discipline because otherwise the selfishness of the few could be detrimental to everyone. “Everyone has got to be responsible. We restaurant owners want to continue with mitigation measures. There is no other way. Everyone wants 40 people instead of 20. But this is not the time, and at the same time we want to see to it that everyone obeys the rules. The same goes for shop owners – the ones who don’t obey get the rest of us into trouble. ”

Antonie Azzopardi is the owner of a restaurant in Mġarr. He said that in the circumstances we are living in, health takes precedence. “Even though we were shut down for five weeks I still agreed because even though we would suffer, we had already slowed down a lot. But it’s better that way, because this is like when someone catches a cold . He has to stay inside if he wants to get better. ”

Mr Azzopardi also reiterated the importance of everyone acting responsibly. “Everyone has got to do their part. Closing down is tough on everyone and Same with the virus. We have to act responsibly. It can kill you at the age of 50, hospitalise you or you can have no symptoms.”

In a statement, the Hotels and Restaurants Association, MHRA, said businesses in this sector were suffering, even though most had upped the rules. The MHRA stressed the importance of the authorities continuing to carry out controls and enforcement to catch irresponsible people, while urging the authorities to speed up the vaccination process so that the country can get back on its feet economically, as quickly as possible, in particular the tourism sector that has suffered the biggest blow as a result of the pandemic.