Business last weekend ‘better than expected but nothing exceptional’ – MHRA President Tony Zahra

MHRA President Tony Zahra

Last Updated on Monday, 25 May, 2020 at 6:55 pm by Andre Camilleri

Business last weekend for the members of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association was described as “better than expected, but nothing exceptional” by the association’s president Tony Zahra.

Speaking to The Malta Independent, Zahra said that there were very positive results in the Sliema and St. Julian’s area, but that outlets in Valletta especially fared worse – although Zahra did note that, generally speaking, there is more business in Valletta during weekdays than on weekends.

Other areas were a “mixed bag”, Zahra said.

On the overall, he said that the MHRA’s impression, based on the members that they had spoken to – no scientific survey has been carried out yet, is that the situation was better than anticipated given how long outlets had been closed for, but was not particularly exceptional.

However, he said, the MHRA looks forward to the “new normal” as time passes and business returns.

Zahra’s comments come the Monday after the first weekend when restaurants were allowed to reopen again.

Restaurants, amongst other outlets, were allowed to re-open and serve clients under certain conditions as from last Friday, after the government announced the second set of relaxations to measures which were initially put in place to restrict the spread of Covid-19.

To be allowed reopen, restaurants need to abide by restrictions issued by health authorities which range from replacing menus and wine lists with single-use ones, limiting table sizes to no more than six people or people from the same household, having staff wear masks or visors, and spacing diners at least two metres apart.

Smokers must also be at least 10 metres away from the dining area as per the new measures.

All in all, at least 340 restaurants were certified by the Malta Tourism Authority as ready to welcome customers this weekend. Inspections to ensure compliance in this regard are carried out by both the MTA and the health authorities’ Environmental Health Officers.

More measures are expected to be relaxed in the coming days, with Prime Minister Robert Abela indicating on Sunday that child care centres and the government’s summer school programme Skolasajf may be next in line to get the green light to open their doors.

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