An announcement on whether bars will be reopening their doors on Monday will be made "by the end of the week", Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo told Times of Malta.
Bars have been shut since October as part of efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Although they were initially set to reopen on December 1, the government has been extending the measures every month since.
Unless extended, the current legal notice expires on Monday.
But bar owners will likely have to wait until the last minute to find out whether they will be allowed to reopen, with Bartolo refusing to say whether the measures are being extended.
When Times of Malta pointed out that owners are still in the dark just days before the rules expire, Bartolo simply reiterated that the government will make an announcement by the end of the week.
Pressed to say if the government was mulling keeping bars closed for another month, especially with the popular bar-hopping events likely to occur to mark St Patrick's Day celebrated in mid-March, Bartolo said the authorities will continue to financially help bars.
When the government extended the closure of bars throughout February, a €2.2 million aid package for bar owners had been announced
But some bar owners had expected more than the amount they were given to make up for the months they had to close shop, although they admitted “it was better than nothing at all”.
A tourism ministry spokesperson had earlier told Times of Malta the country will keep "a cautious approach in March to ensure the medical situation remains under control as this is crucial for the start of the country’s recovery".
He said: "As part of the strategy to return to normality, government is currently focused on the successful implementation of the vaccine roll-out which is making Malta the EU country with the most vaccinations per capita.
"Meanwhile, businesses impacted by restrictive measures will continue to receive the necessary support. Government will announce decisions in due course."
On Tuesday, 221 new COVID-19 cases were detected overnight as the positivity rate stood at 6.75 per cent.
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