In a Press Conference jointly held this morning by the Minister for Tourism, Julia Farrugia Portelli, and the Malta Tourism Authority, unveiled all the regulations which will be in place as from this Friday for the Tourism Industry.
These have been formulated for a number of tourism establishents and tourism-receving operations, to ensure compliance in the fields of social distancing, enhanced hygenic practices, and the minimisation of COVID-19 infection risks.
During the Press Conference it was stated that the regulations are based on the advice given by international and Maltese health authorities, as well as best practices from other countries.
The regulations have been created so as to make the establishments assume self-responsibility and accountability for the introduction of such measures which are naturally aimed at addressing this extraordinary situation, in a way that that the establishments include them in their routine, in their day-to-day management and in the operational practices.
The enforcement of these measures will fall within the remit of the Malta Tourism Authority and the Superintendency of Public Health.
A number of checklists have been created by the MTA for:
- Accomodation Establishments (that is, Collective Accomodation like Hotels as well as Holiday Furnished Premises like apartments and farmhouses)
- Catering Establishments
- Outdoor Establishments including Lidos, Swimming Pools and Outdoor Entertainment Areas
- Beaches, Beach Establishments and Beach Concessions
Principles for Business Continuity
The MTA also outlined the below principles, to ensure the best business continuing in this extraordinary situation.
In principle the MTA said that all workers have the right to a healthy and safe work environment, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic requires a focused approach to health and safety on the place of work.
For this reason, employers and workers must assess the way they operate to identity, understand and quantify the risks, whilst also implementing and review control measures which address those risks. Moreover, employers and workers must work together to adapt and promote safe work practices, so as to ensure that their respective establishment is ready for social distancing as well as exemplary hygiene measures.
They are also to actively control against the transmission of the virus while at work, whilst also preparing for the possibility that there will be cases of COVID-19 on the workplace. If this happens, they have to be ready to respond immediately, appropriately, effectively and efficiently.
Necessary Equipment and Medical Kits Within An Establishment
When announcing the below, the MTA said that while this list does not mean that all items are to be used in their entirety all the time, they are to be readily available within an establishment should the need arise.
Where applicable, each establishment is to have:
- Germicidal Disinfenctant or Wipes for surface cleaning;
- Visors, which are to be regularly cleaned with alcohol;
- Disposable Face Masks, which can only be used once;
- Disposable Gloves;
- Disposable Protective Apron;
- Full-length long-sleeved gown; and,
- A Biohazard disposable waste bag.
Moreover, where applicable, staff are to practice social distancing and regular hand sanitising, and they are to wear masks or visors at all times.
Each counter desk is to possess the telephone numbers of public health authorities, hospitals and medical centres, as well as contact details of public and private hospitals, for them to be used whenever a guest or a customer may be ill.
Contactless payments are to be made available and are to be encouraged, where possible.
Outdoor service with seating at tables is recommended. Indoor is only allowed as a concession where outdoor dining is not possible. Moreover, Buffet Service is not to be offered, not even for Breakfast.
The MTA also announced that smoking is not permitted, neither indoors or outdoors. Smoking can take place at least 10m away from the tables.
From Friday condiments such as ketchup, salt and pepper are to be in disposable packets and single-use, instead of in bottles or containers. If this is not possible, the condiments can be served in bowls, which are then to be washed in dishwashers at high temperatures.
Upon entering and exiting a dining area, guests are to disinfect hands using disinfectant gel which has to be located at the entrance.
The establishments are to have an extended service time to avoid guest crowding, by not later to 23:00hrs.
As to what regards dish-washing, all dishes, silverware, and glassware are to be washed and disinfected in a dishwashing machine, including items that have not been used.
There are to be no self-service dispensers, or self-service both indoors and outdoors, however, a hand sanitizer is to be placed next to a cigarette vending machine with clear directions displayed for use before and after making use of the machine.
In the case of manual washing, there is to be a wash, disinfect, and rinse process in place.
In toilets, the air-drying machines are not to be used, and these need to be replaced with disposable paper towels.
For effective disinfection, there is to be minimal material on the tables, while the same tables and chairs need to be disinfected after each use.
Meanwhile, Menus and Wine Lists are to be replaced with single use versions of them.
For both indoor and outdoor dining, the maximum number of persons is the one established by the Superintendent of Public Health.
For outdoor, every person shall keep at least 2 metres from others, with tables limited to groups of not more than 6 persons from the same household. Tables have to be arranged in such a way that the distance from the front of one chair, to the front of the chair behind it shall be 2 metres, and the back-to-back distance between chairs is to be 1m.
For indoor dining, distance between tables is to be 3 metres.
For pool areas, the MTA announced that disinfectant dispensers of liquid soap and disposable paper towels are to be provided.
As was also announced yesterday, the capacity of the pool areas is to be limited to 50% of the maximum bathing load, with staff at pools to also wear visors.
Umbrellas, sun beds, chairs and other equipment are to be disinfected after every visitor leaves.
The MTA also said that there is to be no crowding in common areas such as changing rooms and toilets. These are to be disinfected every hour, and a limit of six persons at one time applies.
A 2-metre distance has to be applied in every direction between each unit in the open area around the pools, with only one person per sunbed being allowed.
Finally, water attractions such as slides, cannot be operated.
Public Beaches, Lidos and Swimming Pools
The MTA said that beach cleaning is to be undertaken daily, while the emptying of bins is to be done twice daily, followed by cleaning and disinfecting of receptables.
Portable toilets and showers are not be used, while public toilets will be disinfected every hour and limited to 6 persons at any one time. Documentation will be kept on site to log the disinfection carried out every hour.
Information Boards will also be installed outlining the beach behaviour and the Health and Hygiene information.
The Beach Supervisors’ Offices, First Aider and Lifesaver Posts will be disinfected daily, with all beach staff expected to wear visors.
Any queues are to practice 2-metre social distancing, and all refuse containers are to be emptied and disinfected every hour, as a minimum.
The MTA will be issued a Compliance Sticker to all those tourist establishments which would be adhering to all the above mitigation measures. Once given, this sticker can be revoked should the establishments fail to keep the mitigation measures at a constant. If this happens more than once, the establishment’s license will be revoked and the establishment would have to stop operating.
The Ministry of Tourism has also launched a helpline on which establishment owners should call if they feel they are ready to operate and thus would need a site visit for the compliance sticker to be issued – the helpline is 21 692 447.
Meanwhile, Minister Julia Farrugia said that tourism employees will still be entitled to the wage supplement even after next Friday, adding that they will receive this entitlement, for as long as it is necessary.