Restaurants caught off guard by South Africa’s new lockdown rules

The Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa) says it will have further engagements with president Cyril Ramaphosa about the country’s new lockdown measures, after it was caught off guard by some of the new restrictions – including a new curfew.

In an address on Monday evening (14 December), Ramaphosa announced that South Africa’s national curfew will be extended from 23h00 until 04h00.

This means that non-essential establishments such as restaurants will have to close at 22h00 so that staff and patrons can go home before curfew. The curfew will be in full effect on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Rasa’s Wendy Alberts told eNCA that the restaurant industry had been somewhat shocked by the announcement as it had asked the government to reduce the curfew in the interests of business.

She added that restaurants were expecting to be busier over the festive season period and that a reduced curfew ‘will have taken some of the pressure off’.

Alberts said that curfew also has implications in getting restaurants cleaned properly and getting staff home on time.

Ramaphosa announced that further national restrictions will be reintroduced from 00h01 on Tuesday.

These restrictions will be reviewed in early January based on the state of the country’s coronavirus cases, he said.

The new restrictions include:

  • Stricter enforcement of existing level 1 lockdown restrictions – This includes that people in public buildings and public transport wear masks.
  • Gatherings – Gatherings will be further restricted to 100 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor events. The total number of people in a venue may not exceed 50% of the capacity of the venue.
  • Funerals – All post-funeral gathering are prohibited across the country.
  • Beaches – Ramaphosa said that a differentiated approach will be used for the country’s beaches and public parks. In areas with high coronavirus cases beaches and parks will be closed from 16 December to 3 January – this will apply to all of the Eastern Cape and the Garden Route. Beaches will also be closed in KZN on days which are seen as particularly busy. These include 16 December, 26 December, 31 December, 1 January, 2 January, and 3 January. Beaches and public parks in the Western Cape and Northern Cape will remain open for now.
  • Evening – South Africa’s national curfew will be extended: 23h00 until 04h00. This means that non-essential establishments such as restaurants will have to close at 22h00 so that staff and patrons can go home before curfew. The curfew is in full effect on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
  • Alcohol – The sale of alcohol will only be permitted from 10h00 – 18h00 from Monday to Thursday at retail outlets. Wine farms can remain open and sell alcohol for off-site consumption as per their licence hours.

Read: Ramaphosa announces new lockdown restrictions for South Africa – including beach closures, curfew and alcohol sales

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Restaurants caught off guard by South Africa’s new lockdown rules