The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) recognises that the increase in the numbers of COVID-19 infected people is a matter of great concern to all. The new measures announced by Government are focused on the restaurants sector, which means that many businesses in this sector will be suffering yet another major economic blow, for some even with fatal consequences, despite that the majority have over the past difficult year abided to the protocols imposed by the relevant authorities.
Indeed, despite the hardship that the restaurateurs will have to go through in the coming weeks, the MHRA states that the root issues remain unaddressed risking that the outcome of such exercise will be futile leading to more serious consequences in the wider economy as the tourism sector continues to emerge as the major victim of this situation.
MHRA President Tony Zahra asserts that, “one may increase and impose a plethora of new measures, however if enforcement is not carried out efficiently and be seen by all that is so, the situation may get more serious.” MHRA reiterates that better enforcement requires more resources to be deployed on this front and the related responsibilities by the relevant tourism authorities and regulator should be equally shared with the Police Force and Health Authorities. Therefore, MHRA calls for better inter-ministerial efforts on this front and closer collaboration with the stakeholders. It is evident that if protocols and licensing conditions remain to be breached by irresponsible operators and individuals then the situation in the coming months is going to prove fatal to honest and hardworking operators and employees working in the travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors.
MHRA is also very concerned about the roll-out of the vaccine programme and is calling upon Government to provide adequate reassurance that Malta becomes one of the first EU states to have its citizens vaccinated and accordingly launch concrete actions which would build on such advantage in order to re-launch the economy through tourism in alliance with other successful countries on this front. The major political challenge which Government needs to shoulder at this stage revolves around whether the latest announced measures will deliver the desired outcomes.
MHRA remains loyal to its pledge in supporting the authorities in working together in finding the best ways to get out of this metaphorical corner, however Government must pull up its socks and focus efforts on enforcement, enhanced economic support to tourism operators, who now cannot afford to carry further such pressures, more efficient and target oriented roll out of the vaccine amongst the people and better communication with the stakeholders who with their expertise can only help out in a such dire situation.