The week bars and band clubs reopened after almost eight months, patrons are doubly excited at the prospect of watching UEFA Euro 2020 from their regular seats at the bar rather than from home.

The stars have finally aligned for bar owners who spoke to Times of Malta. With the international football competition kicking off later on Friday, so soon after reopening, the games generating high interest and tables are already getting fully booked. Turkey and Italy face off today at 9pm, in the tournament’s first match.

“We can’t really get into the usual atmosphere that we like to drum up because of restrictions,” Tonio D’Amato, of Charles Bar, said.

“Group chants and celebrations are off limits too. But we’re still going to be putting up our flags and doing our best to get everyone in the spirit.”

People are desperate to return to a sense of normality

People were not being put off by the restrictions, he said. The communal culture of watching football at a bar was not going away.

“Enthusiasts want to show their support and are eager to watch their favourites on the big screen. In fact, we are booked solid this weekend.

“Usually, this is not peak season for us; people much prefer being out or at the beach. But this competition has definitely drummed up excitement for business and everyone’s looking forward to having a pint and a good match,” D’Amato said.

Donald Bonnici, of Beer Garden, in St Julian’s said the competition could not have come at a better time. “We’ve been advertising it for a while and we’re doing everything we can for our clients to have a good time while remaining careful and within the restrictions,” he said.

“As we can’t really do events at the moment, the competition has really kickstarted our bookings, so, hopefully, we’re set to have a good season.”

Lee Stivala, of Black Gold Saloon, in Sliema said the regulars were buzzing and bookings were already strong throughout all the games for the coming month.

“People are desperate to return to a sense of normality and,  for many people, watching football is the benchmark of normality,” Stivala said. “The regulars are super excited; the games are the only thing they’ve been able to talk about all week. I think I speak for all of us when I say I can’t wait to be able to watch football at the bar again.”

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