Fabian Demicoli

GRTU slams government for ‘double U-turn’

The Chamber of Small Businesses and Enterprise director
general Vince Farrugia (GRTU) slammed the government yesterday for what he
claimed was a double u-turn.

However, Mr Farrugia continued, those
entities or people who were not present for the meetings were now introducing
specifications and terms and conditions which had not been agreed in the first
place. “This amounts to a double u-turn,” he said angrily. “We cannot continue
running the country like this. The government has become like a yo-yo man and
businesses are stuck in the middle,” he said.

Mr Farrugia, who was
contacted by The Malta Independent for a reaction to the technical
specifications issued by the Malta Standards Authority (MSA) yesterday,
reiterated the chamber’s stand that the regulations on smoking in public places
will have a “disastrous effect on businesses”.

He said the regulations
will have an effect on various sectors of society, including the importers and
distributors of air-purifying equipment and the technical people who are
responsible for their maintenance.

Mr Farrugia said Ireland, which
recently introduced the same regulations Malta was introducing, had experienced
a fall in the number of people frequenting bars, pubs and restaurants and as a
result, businesses were folding.

He said that while on the one hand, one
minister was introducing a regulation whereby people cannot walk in the road
with a bottle of alcohol in their hand, another minister was telling people
drinking in a bar to smoke outside in the road because they were not allowed to
smoke inside. What will they do with their drink? We need some co-ordination,
said Mr Farrugia.

The MSA sent the media a synopsis containing what they
called the “salient points of the Technical Specifications”. The MSA statement
continued that the synopsis is intended to introduce the public to the concepts
contained in the specifications. In his reaction, Mr Farrugia said the GRTU was
convinced that the regulations and the specifications, when enforced, will have
a drastic effect on business.

He said that Malta should learn from the
Irish, who have experienced a downward trend since these regulations were
introduced.

Mr Farrugia said these things only happen in Malta and that
this was not the way to run a country.

The Indoor Air Quality –
Reduction of effects of smoking on non-smokers – Requirements, gives the
necessary requirements for minimising the possibility of contamination of
non-smoking areas by chemicals emanating from smoking carried out in smoking
rooms and areas in licensed premises.

The technical specifications do
not cover the ventilation requirements of buildings where no smoking activity is
carried out.

The following is the full synopsis of the requirements:

The licensed premises shall: (a) be designated as non-smoking or (b)
have adequate ventilation systems installed and functioning for a designated
smoking room.

Clear signs shall be installed in both non-smoking
licensed premises as well as in non-smoking rooms in premises permitting
smoking. The signs shall be indicate both the possibility of smoking as well as
its prohibition as may be the case. Signs shall be installed in conspicuous
places and permanently maintained.

Designated smoking rooms shall be so
constructed as to ensure that persons outside the smoking rooms are not
subjected to fumes from the smoking room. These include full height walls and
automatically closing doors which are to be kept in the closed position at all
times.

The ventilation requisites for smoking rooms include the
maintenance of a negative pressure inside the room, the provision of fresh air
inside the room and the exhaust of air from inside the room without
re-circulation inside the premises.

The synopsis concludes by saying
that the full text of the specifications is available for purchase from the MSA.

 

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