Chamber of Commerce welcomes re-opening of retail outlets news

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the news that some retail outlets will be allowed to re-open as from Monday.

Malta announced that it would start easing some of its restrictions which were imposed following the coronavirus outbreak in the country. Some business providing non-essential services will reopen from Monday. These include: lotto booths; VRT testing stations; clothes, handbag and shoe shops; jewellers; perfumeries and cosmetics shops; Home decor; discount shops; toy and hobby shops; furniture outlets; and florists.

Hairdressers, beauticians, restaurants and cafes will remain shut.

Certain health services will resume, travel to Gozo will begin again and the number of people allowed to gather in groups in public has increased by one.

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne announced that the rolling back of certain measures will come with restrictions. Everyone has been asked to wear a mask in shops and on public transport.

Reacting to this morning’s press concerence, the Chamber of Commerce said that it welcomed the latest announcement by the government to relax the economic lockdown, predominantly measures which affected non-essential retail.

“This is a first step in what hopefully will lead us to a new normal in the near future and allows us to start regaining economic traction in order to save as many livelihoods as we can,” the Chamber said in a statement.

The Chamber in its statement said that it had called for the easing of measures for the past two weeks. On Friday, Fearne explained that measures could only be eased according to the evidence at hand. Reopening too early could translate into a more aggressive second wave.

“A structured tapering of the lockdown is the logical way forward as the country now looks forward to kickstarting economic activity, for the benefit of all society. This is a time for discipline and maturity. With everyone’s cooperation we can resume business activity gradually with minimal risk to employees and customers alike. Let’s ensure that this is only the first step back towards normality, and that the country will not need to backtrack on this very important step” said David Xuereb.

Surveys carried out by the Chamber among its members showed that besides the need to extend the assistance schemes to as many sectors as possible, entrepreneurs needed guidance from the authorities to start planning the eventual re-opening of their operations.

Health authorities are expected to publish the necessary guidelines for the retail operators including how to calculate the number of customers allowed inside a shop at one go, and other restrictions which may be in place. Social distancing rules will remain in place until further notice and customers are required to stand 2 meters apart. Further, thermal screening will take place at malls.

The Chamber urged the government to expand the assistance measures which are being offered to include sectors that were not covered by the second stimulus package saying that this would retain jobs.

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