Restaurants won’t support lockdown extension, as closures grow

The restaurant industry says it cannot tolerate any more negative impacts on business, such as a liquor ban and other further restrictions.

  • The Restaurant Association of South Africa says its list of restaurant closures exceeds 1 000.
  • The industry will not support an extension of the level 4 lockdown beyond 14 days.
  • The industry wants government to provide scientific evidence of the risk of transmission at restaurants.

The list of restaurant closures continues to grow, and the industry won’t support an extension of the level 4 lockdown beyond 14 days, according to the Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA).

Nearly two weeks ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced level 4 restrictions would be implemented. They included a fourth ban on alcohol sales and restaurants and eateries only being permitted to sell food for takeaway or delivery.

At the time, RASA CEO Wendy Alberts warned that the restaurant industry would be hardest hit, especially without income support such as the UIF’s Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS).

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is set to meet on Sunday to assess the developments of the Covid-19 response over the past two weeks. Ramaphosa previously said that a decision would be made to either maintain or adjust the restrictions after two weeks.

But according to RASA, the industry is not prepared to stay closed any longer – especially while retail and transport industries can continue to operate without having to make major adjustments.

“Retail and transport have made no compromises nor have they had any imposed restrictions or remodelled their businesses.

“The restaurant industry will no longer tolerate compromise when there is no regard to control the uncontrolled spaces or to lock down the illicit trade while we accumulate extended debts and lose our livelihoods,” the statement read.

RASA is seeking scientific evidence from government, including comparisons of its risks against that of retail shopping centres and the transport industry.

According to RASA, its list of restaurant closures exceeds 1 000 – landlords and banks require rental and loan repayments – which is among the biggest contributors to closures. The list of restaurants circulated by RASA on WhatsApp shows restaurants across the country have been closed – including at hubs like Long Street in Cape Town and Melville in Gauteng.

The liquor ban is also a sore point. “The alcohol impact is probably the single biggest issue impacting our restaurants and we cannot tolerate an extension to this restriction,” the statement read.

RASA lamented all the remodelling businesses had to do to meet restrictions. “The restaurant industry cannot tolerate any type of negative impact or face the continued closure, liquor ban or any type of further restrictions.”

The industry would rather operate with the same restrictions that were in place in April, which are less stringent than that of level 4.


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Publish date : 2021-07-09 17:50:33

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