South African restaurants to protest lockdown rules this week

Restaurants plan to place more than a million seats on streets around South Africa on Wednesday (22 July) as the industry protests the country’s current lockdown restrictions.

Speaking in an interview with eNCA, the Restaurant Association of South Africa’s Wendy Alberts said that the protest is open to everyone in the tourism and accommodation industry who have been affected by the regulations.

She added that the regulations have impacted the industry across the board, with government failing to offer the necessary support.

“Every single one of the regulations (have an impact on the industry). Right from insurance companies not giving payouts to not being able to get funding from the government.”

“Not being able to get the UIF TERS, not being able to operate our businesses properly, restrictions on liquor licences, the curfew, the timing.

“At every single turn, every statement and restriction has difficulty on the industry and has put us back.”

Establishments have taken to social media to voice their concerns, highlighting how many employees face losing their jobs and the potential knock-on effects for their families.

At the end of the June, Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane outlined the rules that restaurants and other parts of the tourism sector will need to follow as part of the country’s move to an ‘advanced level 3’ lockdown.

Following the publication of these guidelines, sit-down restaurants were allowed to operate under the following restrictions:

  • Restaurants are required to conduct a screening questionnaire on guests. Restaurants may refuse admission if they deem a guest is a safety risk;
  • No person may enter the premises without a cloth mask or any homemade item that covers the nose and mouth;
  • Masks must be worn at all times except where eating and drinking;
  • All guests must sanitise before entering the premises;
  • There must be distance of at least 1.5 metres between the customer and the point-of-sale serving counter. The same distance will also apply to queuing customers and between queues at different till points;
  • Customers should also be seated 1.5 metres apart;
  • Restaurants should consider a reservation system where possible to manage demand and ensure capacity limits.

However, less than three weeks after these restaurants were allowed to reopen, government reintroduced a number of stricter lockdown regulations which had a direct impact on the industry.

This includes the immediate ban on alcohol as well as the reintroduction of an evening curfew.

Headline picture taken from Coffee Berry Cafe Instagram.

Read: We sat down to eat at a restaurant after 13 weeks of lockdown – this is what it was like

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South African restaurants to protest lockdown rules this week