In the latest edition of Bay Chats, MHRA President Tony Zahra said that as an association they would like for restaurants to reopen by the end of May. “If this would not be the case, then we would like to be given a clear explanation by the authorities as to why this will not happen,” he said, adding that in countries where the COVID-19 outbreak was treated as good as in Malta, or even better, such as in Sweden, no drastic closures took place.
He also said this in light of the fact that various members of HOTREC, which is the umbrella association of Hotels, Restaurants and Cafes in Europe, are opening up their restaurants and hotels albeit with limitations.
“We want to follow the right protocols and the best practices, when restaurants reopen in Malta,” he said.
Whilst commending the efforts of the Maltese Health Authorities in dealing excellently with the fight against COVID-19, Mr Zahra said that if the economy is not restarted to the full, then “we will have a disaster which will lead to unemployment, on a large scale.”
“We need to restart the economy slowly, with the right precautions. Now whether this will be done by limiting the table capacity to 4, or by spacing out the tables, this is something which we will sit down and discuss, and agree on a way forward,” he said.
MHRA Discussing a three-month Extension of the Government Aid Package
Mr Zahra stated that the financial packages announced by the Government were the only way through which “most of our members could in fact survive in these challenging times, especially because all their income was halted abruptly.”
He also announced that they are in fact discussing with the Government to work on a further three-month extension of the financial aid package which was initially offered in March for a three-month duration.
Mr Zahra also spoke in favour of opening up safe air corridors with those countries who have been impacted the least with COVID-19 and who have succeded as much as Malta, and even more, in the containment, mentioning countries such as Israel, Sweden and Slovakia.
“This does not mean that we will have hundreds of thousands of visitors coming from these countries, but we are looking at a scenario of having two daily flights from these countries. We are not inventing the wheel, this is what will happen between New Zealand and Australia,” Mr Zahra said whilst adding that MHRA would like these safe air corridors to be opened by mid-June.
“In future, always choose licensed hotels and other places of accommodation.”
Asked about what will change in the procedures of hotels post-COVID-19, Mr Zahra said that Hotels need to have the right protocols in place in what regards sanitization of rooms, bathrooms and public areas so that when a person visits, one feels safe in a clean and sanitized place.
“This is necessary, so that we always guarantee a nice and relaxing experience for guests. Moreover, hotels have to be careful to not make the hotel visitor to feel as though they entered a hospital,” Mr Zahra said.
“It is however of utmost importance that people use accommodation and hotels which are licensed. For example, in Malta we have a situation where most of the Airbnbs are not licensed. You have to choose those places where you have peace-of-mind that the hotel which you use is doing things in the right manner,” he added.
You can Listen to the full interview below!