The Malta Independent 7 May 2021, Friday

No update yet on bar closures, voucher distribution – Schembri

Jake Aquilina Wednesday, 24 February 2021, 11:16 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Economy Minister could not provide any updates on whether the legal notice mandating the closure of bars and clubs will be extended and on the date of distribution of the government’s stimulus vouchers.

The Malta Independent asked Minister for Economy and Industry Silvio Schembri as to whether there are any updates on the legal notice which shuttered bars and clubs, which is set to expire next Monday.

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“As has always happened in the past, these are things that are announced by the Health Ministry primarily; and they depend on various factors. At the end of the day, health is the topmost priority. The economic aspect is still very important though, and that is why we are giving the necessary assistance.”

Asked whether a meeting with the Health Ministry is going to take place to see whether it should or should not be extended, Schembri said that “meetings are happening continuously and every day.”

The Minister was also asked about the government stimulus vouchers, which were going to be released in mid-January but were delayed due to the spike in cases after the festive season. On this, Schembri said: “I felt that it would have been irresponsible if we released the vouchers in mid-January as was planned.”

“I would like to ease people’s minds that the vouchers are going to be released, but it would be prudent in terms of health to have the go ahead from the health authorities, as well as from the economic aspect since bars and kazini which today are shuttered; we would punish them even more if we do not allow them to benefit from these vouchers,” he noted.

Bars and clubs have been shut since October 29th in order to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. The Government last month increased the financial aid provided to them from €1 million to €2.2 million since they were one of the hardest hit sectors.

Times of Malta quoted Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo as saying that the Government will announce a decision on bars and clubs “by the end of the week”.

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