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Although Malta has lifted several COVID-19 restrictions in recent months, several businesses are still feeling the pinch and the state of play is frustrating them.
In an interview with Lovin Malta, Malta Chamber of SMEs CEO Ms Abigail Mamo said that “what was sadly comical is that after weeks of intense discussions with the relevant sectors, presenting well thought out proposals, and waiting for some form of reply, the ‘big and important’ announcement was of moving steps backward, not forward – regressive”, refering to the Government announcement in mid-June for the reopening plan.
The SME Chamber contributed to iron out inconsistencies to help the various sectors work and remove any unnecessary burdens.
The following were the inconsistencies highlighted by the SME Chamber:
Ms Abigail Mamo said that while she agrees with weddings taking place, other events that replicate the seated wedding model – such as conferences, AGMs, gala dinners and award nights – should be allowed too.
“We also understand that in case of the activities we proposed the risk is actually lower as there is no particular opportunity for heavy drinking and dancing as the high-level events do not offer the environment for it,” she said.
Meanwhile, despite the restrictions on events, the President’s Office recently organised a national conference, Stat tan-Nazzjon.
However, rapid tests were until recently used by the health authorities themselves to randomly test arrivals at the airport.
Abigail Mamo also questioned why masks are still mandatory on vessels when they’re no longer compulsory on beaches and near pools, and why alcohol is banned on board even though it’s allowed at bars, snack bars and restaurants.
“Would you go on a half-day or full-day cruise on a boat if you’re not able to have a glass of wine or a beer with your meal?” she asked. “The sector is suffering mass cancellations of bookings and people are telling operators they will go elsewhere where they can enjoy themselves more.
“This is a significant dent to the viability of private bus operations,” Mamo warned.
“The surface area of lidos is being completely eaten up with the spacing and is very unattractive for very small groups of people going together,” Mamo said. “Lidos have very high maintenance costs and they need the necessary basic capacity to be able to cover their costs.”
The Chamber of SMEs head said that the situation has frustrated several of her members and that some are pondering ignoring the rules or organising a public protest.
“While they’re receiving a wage supplement from the government, this money is only being spent on covering a fraction of their employees’s wages,” she said. “We’re not in a health crisis anymore, and who will take care of my members’ mental health? It’s as though COVID-19 is the only thing that exists.
Following this article and several other contributions, the SME Chamber welcomed the increase in capacity for private tourism vessel operators and awaits further easing of Covid-19 restrictions especially those related to events, buses, boats and lidos.
The Malta Chamber of SMEs represents over 7,000 members from over 90 different sectors which in their majority are either small or medium sized companies, and such issues like the one we're experiencing right now, it's important to be united. Malta Chamber of SMEs offers a number of different services tailored to its members' individual requirements' and necessities. These range from general services offered to all members to more individual & bespoke services catered for specific requirements.
A membership with Malta Chamber of SMEs will guarantee that you are constantly updated and informed with different opportunities which will directly benefit your business and help you grow. It also entails you to a number of services which in their majority are free of charge and offered exclusively to its members (in their majority all free of charge).