The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) is hoping that delays in the second round of the Government COVID vouchers will not extend beyond 15th February.
Initially, the second round of vouchers was to be issued by mid-January, the Economy Ministry had said earlier this month. Following criticism by the Medical Association of Malta, the Ministry issued a statement on Monday evening to say that the vouchers would be rolled out following consultation with relevant authorities and stakeholders, and until bars and entertainment venues are reopened.
So far, they have been ordered shut until 1st February.
The vouchers total €100, as with the first round, and were supposed to be given to all Maltese residents over 16 this month. Of the €100, €60 has been allotted for accommodation and restaurants, while €40 has been allotted for retail outlets.
In its reaction to this latest development, the MHRA said it was “extremely pleased with Government’s commitment to issue another set of €100 vouchers”.
“Indeed, it was MHRA that recommended to Government that the vouchers are issued on 21st January and the plan was for the vouchers to be issued mid-January.”
The hotel and restaurant lobby group highlighted the extraordinary times the world is going through, “and plans have to be adjusted according to the number of COVID cases being registered”.
“There was a spike in cases after the recent holidays. We hope that this spike might have been the result of families getting together over the Christmas holidays and COVID cases will return to normal in the next few days.
“We shall leave the decision as to when the vouchers will be issued to Government, after consulting all the stakeholders on the issue. We are hoping however that should there be a delay than this should not be beyond 15th February as our members are extremely eager to have some revenue going through their books.”
The value of the entire voucher programme will see the Government inject €45 million into the local economy.
In a separate statement, The Malta Chamber applauded the Government's decision to delay the voucher roll out.
'As it has said all throughout the pandemic, The Malta Chamber reiterates its position that all, and any initiatives taken must, at all times reflect, the highest public health interest. The Government’s decision, as announced by the Minister of the Economy yesterday is hence commended,' it said in a statement issued on Tuesday morning.
Tony Zahra - MHRA President