It is unfair to hold owners of self-catering accommodation responsible for overcrowding in their properties, the Gozo Tourism Association (GTA) has said.

The association spoke out ahead of new, as yet unannounced, measures to target carnival weekend amid a demand for holiday bookings on the island.

“The majority of the licensed self-catering operators are booking their units according to their licensed number of beds. It has always been the concern of the self-catering operators how to control the number of booked people in the rented property and those actually staying in,” the GTA said.

Earlier this month, Times of Malta reported how accommodation owners were recording high numbers of requests for booking over the February 12-14 weekend.

It comes despite a historic decision to call off all carnival festivities after health authorities linked a spike in COVID-19 cases to gatherings during Christmas and New Year.

The GTA said that since it is practically impossible for operators of rented properties to police their accommodation, proposing to fine them for overcrowding is “insensitive”. 

They did not say who had proposed a fine or whether it is being considered by government.

The GTA said that while it is confident that the majority of the Gozitan accommodation units are hosting visitors under strict health protocols, it encouraged them to continue to ensure safety for visitors and staff.

It appealed to guests to “strictly adhere to the instructions, warnings and appeals” of the health authorities and urged the authorities to continue with their efforts to enforce health protocols.

“Yet it rests solely on the holidaymaker to be responsible and act diligently at all times while enjoying a holiday break,” it said.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the Association of Catering Establishments also rebutted allegations that catering establishments are not observing protocols, rules and laws.

"Indeed, the majority of enforcement visits from authorities result in such observance by the large majority," it said.

It added that there have been minor non-observance due to logistics such as having tables a few centimetres closer than required by social distancing.

The ACE condemned behaviour "that is not in observance of the required protocols". It said it always encouraged members to abide by the rules and thanked enforcement officers for their continuous work. It encourages the authorities to take the necessary actions to stop mass gatherings wherever they are organised, be it establishments or private places. 

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