COVID closed one in five restaurants, ‘owners suffering from mental health issues’

Association wants restrictions removed, vouchers reinstated and wage supplements running till the end of 2021

The Association of Catering Establishments has claimed one in five restaurants has shut down under pressure of the latest COVID-19 public health restrictions.

Restaurants and bars were forced to keep their doors shut to the public except for delivery and take-away services, after Malta experienced a heightened increase in second-wave infections back in March.

According to the ACE, a study it carried out with an unspecified number of suppliers found that between March 2020 and March 2021, approximately 19% of establishments closed down.

“This staggering figure confirms the studies that the ACE had done in 2020, in which 24% establishments declared that they are considering to close shop. An additional 12% have put their operation on sale or to rent,” ACE said.

“Catering establishments have been unjustly made to close in spite of all statistics showing that the COVID-19 spread is not related to restaurant opening. Despite the clarity in statistics and the statements made by health officials that restaurants are not the cause, the health authorities have decided to discriminate against these depriving them from their daily bread.

“Catering establishments are being deprived from the right to work and earn a living. The situation is desperate, with mental health issues related to solvency problems also being reported to the ACE.”

ACE said it had been in touch with psychologists who had confirmed that they are surprised on the number of catering establishment owners that are approaching them in view of the circumstance.

“Many in the retail sector have also expressed solidarity with restaurateurs given also that their establishments are also being effected by the closure of catering establishments. In this alarming situation, the ACE calls on government to open catering establishments at the immediate, issue vouchers on opening date, and to maintain full wage supplement up to end of year,” ACE said.