Venue owners and DJs say government must step up lifting of restrictions

Malta is ripe for partying after 18 months of withdrawal. The announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne that a number of social and cultural events will be able to take place in Malta and Gozo from July 5, although open only to fully vaccinated people, has been widely welcomed. . However, some problems remain.

Bars and clubs have been closed since the end of October, when the government introduced new restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Bars and other entertainment venues were originally slated to reopen in early December, but Prime Minister Robert Abela said the closure would be extended until the end of the year.

Events will be capped at 100 people, rising to 150 on July 15, and potentially 200 people by August 2. Not only that, but participants must remain seated at the venue – the antithesis of the concept of partying and mingling.

The Maltese Entertainment and Arts Industry Association was not enthusiastic about the plan, which was presented by health authorities on Friday, writing that the measures showed “an unfortunate disregard for the livelihoods of professionals”.

“It is discriminatory for our industry when all other sectors are allowed to operate without such bold measures while tourists at least have the choice of showing a negative test in the absence of a vaccination certificate,” a- he declared.

Gianpula owner Matthew Degiorgio said the sit-down events would be “catastrophic” for site owners. “People come with a certain state of mind when they come to Gianpula, they don’t want to sit and eat, they want to party and mingle.”

He said people wanted to attend controlled events, saying health authorities should look at illegal gatherings and raves around Malta as an example of how current regulations don’t work. “People will feel more secure knowing that the necessary checks have been carried out,” Degiorgio said.

This sentiment was also shared by UN Director General Russel Mercieca, who said reopening must be possible for the sites as well. “It doesn’t make sense to open for 100 people, we have to have at least 300 people present.” Mercieca explained that the maintenance of the sites, especially the open air ones, costs around € 15,000 to open..

Underground music DJ and event organizer Carl Bee said artists need to come to terms with the reality they are facing and think positively about the situation. “Obviously, we don’t want last year to repeat itself, when we booked a number of international artists, only to have the mass event closed again. ”

Carl Bee also said people should have an option. “We have illegal raves that take place on beaches and private residences,” he said. “The organization of controlled events will make it possible to identify and limit the spread of the virus. ”

Ziggy, also an event organizer and DJ, said industry players should have been given guidance on how the measures would be lifted. “I don’t expect to throw a party for thousands of people, but at least give me some sort of instruction,” he said.

He added that preparations are already in place in case the authorities give the green light. “We also need to see if it will be worth it for site owners to open up, if approved. The more weeks and months go by, the more summer we lose.

When asked if they expect a change in clubbing habits, the owners of the premises said people will want to party after a year and a half of deprivation due to a pandemic.

“People who wouldn’t normally party will be looking to go out and have some fun with their friends,” Degiorgio said. “Crowds will only bother people if entry to sites is not against a vaccine certificate.”

But Mercieca is optimistic about the future of the Maltese party scene. “Last year we saw a lot of enthusiasm, people want to attend these events,” he said, “and now that we know we have the vaccine certificate, I think participation will be even higher. “

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