Business is likely to slow down considerably on Monday, especially in Valletta and Sliema, and attendance at schools will be poor as the island goes through the post-general election result routine, usually meaning traffic-clogged roads and widespread celebrations by supporters of the winning party.

A clothes shop owner in Republic Street, Valletta, said he has decided to remain closed. "Here we are in the centre and on Monday we expect thousands of people to come and celebrate whichever party wins. In the past we were victims of violence and so we've learnt our lesson," he said.

The owner of a jewel shop in Merchants Street mentioned logistic reasons for keeping his shop shut. "Even if I wanted to open, I can't," he said. "Salesgirls won't risk coming into Valletta on the day following the announcement of the election result."

Other outlets, particularly restaurants in other parts of the island, are still expected to open regularly for business.

"Actually, we are expecting more business on Monday," Amante Caruana, manager of Mamma Mia restaurant in Ta' Xbiex said. "As the main commercial centres remain closed, people will flock to other places outside the normal celebration routes."

Chris Mallia, manager of Melita Restaurant, in Balzan, said it will be a normal day for them.

Vince Farrugia, director general of the Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises - GRTU, said that, most probably, business will come to a standstill on Monday, particularly in the main commercial centres.

"Yes, it is normal for Valletta and Sliema to be mostly affected. However, other areas will work normally. Our feedback is as normal as in past elections. This campaign has been one of the most peaceful ever and I don't expect that it will not remain so next Monday," he said.

Although schools will open as usual, it seems attendance is not likely to be high.

"From my teaching experience over the past 35 years, schools will remain empty on election Monday," John Bencini, president of the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) said. "It has always been like that because parents fear for their children's safety and prefer keeping them at home. For Malta, election Monday is always like doomsday," he said.

One other reason for children missing school on Monday is related to transport. Mr Bencini said that, normally, school transport is not available on the Monday after a general election as mini-buses and private buses refuse to offer a service.

This was confirmed by Charles Meilak, president of the Mini-Bus Co-op, who said that, since 1981, they have not provided a service the day after the announcement of the election result. "Although we have not given any directive yet, we don't normally take risks on this day. I think we will resume service on Tuesday,' Mr Meilak said.

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