The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) has warned the government against the introduction of any further lockdown restrictions over December, which it says will lead to a ‘bloodbath’ in a sector that relies heavily on holiday trade.
Speaking to radio station 702, the association’s chief executive Wendy Alberts said there was no justification for any tougher measures to be introduced by president Cyril Ramaphosa’s government at present.
“While we understand that we are all travelling through the different levels and variants of Covid, we also need to have different dialogues, change our perspective on things, and do things differently, (so that) they do not have an impact on the economy and sabotage the restaurant industry.”
“The industry has been very patient for a long time, we have ticked all the boxes in terms of delivering the highest levels of health and safety,” she said.
Alberts added that the country’s restaurants are already facing reduced trade due to international restrictions and that any additional local restrictions would lead to a bloodbath in the sector. She called on the government to not make any unannounced decisions before consulting with the industry.
The chief executive said that the dialogue in South Africa has shifted with the discovery of the new Omicron variant, and while a rapid surge in cases has been reported, the number of hospitalisations is still relatively low.
Alberts said that government cannot continue to abdicate responsibility around economic damage and that further lockdown levels will put people out of work and on unpaid leave.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will hold meetings on Wednesday (8 December) to discuss the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in South Africa and possible government interventions.
The president acknowledged that while infections are rising in the country, the government needs to be cautious about how it handles any additional measures it puts in place.
He said that he would first receive a report from the health department and other bodies before a decision is made, adding that any announcement relating to regulations would be preceded by a meeting of the presidential coordinating council, which includes provincial premiers and metro mayors.
On Tuesday (7 December), South Africa reported 13,143 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total to 3,051,222.
Deaths have reached 90,002, while recoveries have climbed to 2,864,648, leaving the country with a balance of 96,572 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 26,639,293 (+148,877).