An estimated 157 restaurants say they are ready to re-open on Friday with the lifting of coronavirus measures and have even reached out to the authorities seeking to obtain a compliance certificate.
Though not mandatory for re-opening, restaurant owners are being urged to obtain the certificate in order to ensure they are in line with the protocols to ensure safe practices.
Guidelines have been issued by the Tourism Ministry, with restaurant owners having to fill in daily self-assessment forms as part of measures in order to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Figures supplied to Times of Malta show that since it was announced earlier this week that restaurants should get certified, 157 restaurants asked to be inspected. Once certified as compliant, these restaurants will be provided with a sticker they must affix at the door.
The Malta Tourism Authority said that it had received some 860 calls mostly from those within the hospitality sector since the lifting of measures was announced on Monday.
Restaurateurs asked about various aspects of the protocols and what they need to do to become fully compliant in the shortest possible timeframe.
The inspections started on Wednesday and will continue over the coming days and weeks, a ministry spokesperson said, though she did not provide information on how many inspections had been carried out.
Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli expressed "satisfaction on the positive way the industry has reacted to protocols that have been clearly designed to ensure consumer health".
"We look so much forward to the reopening of the industry," she said.
Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association head Tony Zahra told Times of Malta when contacted that come Friday, restaurants should be in a position to open as long as they followed all the guidelines.
He would not comment on the number of restaurants that came forward claiming to be compliant, insisting instead that restaurant owners were now free to decide whether to remain closed or re-open and that is a "wonderful thing".
Rules all restaurants must follow:
• Replace menus and wine lists with single-use ones
• Offer disposable or single-use condiments (oil, ketchup etc)
• Limit table sizes to no more than six people or people from the same
• Extend service time, to avoid overcrowding
• Keep items on tables to a minimum
Diners seated in outdoor spaces will have to be kept at least 2 metres apart, with a minimum of one metre between chairs, back-to-back.
For diners seated indoors, restaurant managers must limit patrons to one for every four square metres and will have to ensure at least 2m between chairs, back-to-back.
Waiters and staff will wear face masks or visors. No buffet or other self-service will be allowed and there will be no bar service available, with drinks taken to patrons at tables.
Smokers must move 10 metres from the dining area.