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Trade raises glass to liquor licences fee cut

Eddie Soriano prepares a meal at La Trattoria Restaurant, (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A temporary cut in the cost of liquor licences for bars and restaurants was toasted by the trade yesterday.

Karl Massam, the general manager of restaurant group Yellowfin and chairman of the restaurant division of the Chamber of Commerce, said the 50 per cent reduction was “most welcome”.

He added: “Our ability to generate liquor sales has been seriously impacted over the last 14 months.

“We are currently in open dialogue with the Government, which is hugely appreciated, and we hope this is one of many concessions that government grants as we try to return to normalcy.”

Restaurants were hard hit by Covid-19 restrictions and some reported an 80 per cent reduction in income.

Mr Massam was speaking after Parliament passed legislation to halve the cost of liquor licenses for bars, restaurants, hotels, night clubs and tour boats for a year.

Mr Massam said that the relaxation of restrictions on Sunday to allow outdoor dining and push curfew back from 8pm to 10pm had helped spark a much-needed boost for the industry.

He said: “It was great to see customers taking advantage of our outside seating, enjoying food, beverages and ambience, and more importantly this enabled us to bring additional employees back to work.

“Unfortunately, the weather forecast for the rest of the week doesn't look great which will of course negatively affect our seating abilities.”

Some operators have said income has dropped by 80 per cent since the pandemic hit last March.

The problems inspired the chamber to launch a Save Our Restaurants campaign in a bid to stave off the threat of closures.

Mr Massam said the public response to the Save Our Restaurants campaign was encouraging.

He added: “The messages of support from the community have been overwhelming.

“Additionally, the private sector has reached out – some companies offering to pay for their staff to order takeout from their favourite restaurants over the weekends and others have purchased gift cards for employees.

“Let's hope we can all continue to work together, open up our restaurants inside and out, bring our staff back to work and start walking the long road to recovery.”

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Published May 13, 2021 at 8:12 am (Updated May 13, 2021 at 8:16 am)

Trade raises glass to liquor licences fee cut

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