The South African restaurant industry has been battered and bruised due to the stringent lockdown restrictions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the industry is taking a stand. In the first of two planned protests this week, restaurants around the country have taken to the streets on Wednesday, 22 July in peaceful protest.
Organised by the Restaurant Association of South Africa, the #JobsSavesLives protest has restaurants standing together to contest the current lockdown regulations – which includes the reinstatement of the alcohol ban and curfew by placing more than a million seats on the streets nationwide. The empty seats represent the empty restaurants and jobs in jeopardy due to the current restrictions.
The Eat Out team is on the ground covering the protest and we will be updating this story with images throughout the day.
UPDATE: Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane arrived at Rockets in Joburg to address the protest, saying that she would hand over the industry’s list of requests to the President: “I will definitely take both of this back to my colleague, Minister Dlamini-Zuma, but also to the President. We did arrange earlier on that the President did meet with the sector. We did present, together with the sector, the issues. We continue as the Department to raise the issues that affect the sector.”
On the topic of the alcohol ban, she said, “It does not only affect us as the tourism sector. It affects broadly. So the conversations there are different. We do not licence that as the Department, but it’s licenced somewhere else.”
Minister Kubayi-Ngubane also said that the industry’s current state does reflect progress: “If you remember, the risk-adjusted strategy when it was issued at Level 5 and Level 4, it didn’t have anything on tourism. Even Level 3. So we had to work hard in partnership with the private sector to engage in what we can be able to do to get the sector back into active life and participating.”
Mark Festus, senior sous chef at Tryn Restaurant, had this to say: “All my colleagues that’s at home [are heartbroken]. 99 jobs gone. We need to realise that there are families suffering because of this.”
Stay tuned to Eat Out for updates.