The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

MTA has sufficient personnel for inspections, live music sessions 'not banned but discouraged'

Karl Azzopardi Thursday, 21 May 2020, 16:09 Last update: about 8 days ago

The Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) has enough personnel to carry out inspections of hospitality establishments in order to ensure that they abide by Covid-19 protocols, a spokesperson for the authority said.

On Monday evening, Prime Minister Robert Abela, alongside Health Minister Chris Fearne and Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci, revealed the new list of Covid-19 measures that are being relaxed starting from tomorrow Friday (22 May). This includes the reopening of restaurants, cafés and other hospitality establishments, with restrictions in place.

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The following morning, Tourism Minister Julia Portelli Farrugia and the MTA released a list of protocols which such establishments have to abide by if they decide to open their doors to the public, centred on social distancing, hygiene and types of services that they are allowed to provide.

Farrugia Portelli explained that any interested establishments will have their premises inspected by the MTA which will then issue a Covid-19 compliant sticker to be placed at the front of the establishment. The Covid-19 compliant sticker is a certificate that ensures that operaters are up to hygiene standards. The authority warned that this does not mean that just because one gets the sticker they should not follow the rules, as inspections will happen randomly.

The Malta Independent asked the MTA if it has enough personnel to carry out such inspections and ensure that protocols are being followed in all establishments across Malta and Gozo.

“The MTA has sufficient personnel to carry out the necessary inspections in connection with the COVID-19 protocols within a reasonable time-frame,” a spokesperson for the authority said.

The MTA explained that during the height of the pandemic, in March and April, inspectors were verifying hundreds of establishments each day, going up to more than 1,000 daily inspections at the peak. Moreover, it is expected that not all establishments will be requesting inspections at the same time.

After Sunday’s press conference this newsroom had asked PM Abela this same question. He said that this situation “is not a case of enforcement but one of education” as it is everyone’s responsibility to abide by the guidelines that the government suggests. “We are not going to ruin the experience of going to a restaurant, we want it to be as it was before but with caution,” he said.

So, it is not about having officials checking up on restaurants during opening hours as it is everyone's responsibility to look at the guidelines, follow them and move forward, he said.

This newsroom also asked the MTA if there are any protocols that operators which usually offer live music sessions have to follow.

The spokesperson said that the MTA the current procedures to re-introduce operations do not specifically prohibit live sessions, albeit the practice of social distancing still applies and adequate distance would have to be kept. However, at this stage these sort of activities will be discouraged.

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