BUSINESS NEWS - The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) chief executive officer (CEO) Wendy Alberts has revealed that she received confirmation from Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane that only 100 customers would be allowed in pubs and restaurants during the festive season from 15 December to 3 January 2021.
The latest blow to the restaurant industry comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced further restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 during his address to the nation on Monday evening, as the country experiences a second wave of infections.
Ramaphosa announced that alcohol sales would only be allowed between 10:00 and 18:00, from Monday until Thursday, with the exception of wineries and wine farms, which will be allowed to continue selling alcohol for off-site consumption even over weekends.
The president further confirmed that restaurants would also have to close at 22:00 in order for workers to reach their homes on time.
Meanwhile, Alberts bemoaned the 100 customer capacity, saying the restriction would have a negative impact on the industry.
“I received a late call last night from the Minister of Tourism who has advised me that the number restrictions for restaurants will be limited to 100 people max and applies to all restaurants pubs and bars regardless of the size of the establishment for the holiday season.
“I am awaiting the published regulations of which I will send onto you when in hand. This has massive negative impact for us operationally and economically and I am sure it will impact immediate staff layoffs, Unemployment Insurance Fund [UIF] Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme [Covid-19 TERS] benefits,” she said.
Alberts had previously disputed that the restaurant industry had largely contributed to the resurgence of Covid-19 infections.
“There is no evidence to suggest that we [the restaurant industry] are responsible for spreading it.
“But no contact tracing has been done in the sector, and no authorities have come to collect our registers. No authorities have contacted any establishments to follow up.
“Government needs to take responsibility and look at interventions, and work with the industry. Covid-19 will be here for long, but we can’t keep crippling our industry, our economy, and increase our state of despair. It’s just before the festive season, jobs are needed, and we need support from government,” she said.