Restaurants have experienced a significant drop in sales which is unprecedented as it is worse than those reported in end of February beginning of March. Through a survey conducted by the Association of Catering Establishments (ACE) it transpires that after the fading out of the government vouchers effect there was a drop in sales of some 40 percent. The decline started in 22 September 2020 but over the last week with the increasing numbers of persons infected by COVID 19 reported decreases amounted to 70 to 80 percent, varying in different areas.
A minor (5 percent) increase in delivery services was also reported. Evidently, the Maltese population is once again very conscious of the spread and are protecting their families but more importantly there seems to be high level of uncertainty regarding their income.
If sales remain at the current state, there will be inevitable closure of businesses. Many catering establishments have already closed down permanently during this pandemic, others will follow suit should this assistance not be forthcoming. Consequently, it is a must that Government assistance is improved to reflect the current circumstances.
The ACE in line with its proposals to Government reiterates that:
1. Immediate issuance of further vouchers in order to encourage consumption and people can still dine out releasing the tension of income concerns
2. The wage supplements for restaurants should be Euro 800 in order to assist in thekeeping of employees. This assistance should be given also to Maltese persons employed after March 2020
3. The Perspex between tables proposal in order to decrease the social distancing in restaurants should be implemented at the earliest. The concept is already in place in other establishments so it can also work in the case of restaurants
It must be noted that to date there is no scientific link between restaurants and the spreading of the virus. Restaurants by nature are very health conscious and most restaurants have entered into considerable additional expenses in order to create a safe environment. Those who invested should be rewarded through stimulation of economy by immediate vouchers and through adequate assistance in wage supplements as aforestated. Furthermore, incentives should come in place for the implementation of the Perspex proposal and other anti COVID 19 measures.