Catering establishments have warned that closures are inevitable after an "unprecedented" drop in sales in September, worse than that recorded at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to a survey by the Association of Catering Establishmanets, the fading out of government vouchers last month led to a drop in sales of around 40 per cent. 

This increased to 70 to 80 per cent in different areas over the last week, as the number of active COVID-19 cases spiked dramatically, the association said. 

The increase in delivery services was about five per cent. 

"Evidently, the Maltese population is once again very conscious of the spread and are protecting their families but more importantly there seems to be high level of uncertainty regarding their income," the association said.

"If sales remain at the current state there will be inevitable closure of businesses. Many catering establishments have already closed down permanently during this pandemic, others will follow suit should this assistance not be forthcoming. Consequently, it is a must that Government assistance is improved to reflect the current circumstances."

The association called for the government to immediately issue further vouchers to encourage more people to dine out, and for a wage supplement of 800 for restaurants, extended to Maltese people employed after March, to help them retain their employees.

It also called for restaurants to be allowed to decrease social distancing between diners by installing perspex between tables.

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