Lockdown Day 83: Restaurants can open once again

Small Business and Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni initially revealed the news that the government had plans to move the country to “advanced level 3” lockdown. On Wednesday 17 June, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation and officially announced that sit-down restaurants (amongst other small businesses such as hair salons) would be allowed to open to the public and operate after 83 days of being closed.

What does this mean?

News24’s live coverage reports: “Cabinet has decided to ease restrictions on restaurants for sit-down meals, accommodation facilities, conference facilities, cinemas and theatres, casinos, personal care services (including hairdressers and beauty services), non-contact sports, contact sports (but only for training).”

While the Presidency has not released an exact end date or the rules and regulations (whether alcohol can be consumed on-site and opening hours) around the Level 3 amendments, it does give a sense of hope that our corner cafés, pizza haunts and burger joints can begin to open their doors – with limited capacity and strict health protocols in place.

In a webinar held on 15 June by new lobby group The Restaurant Collective, Tashas group owner Natasha Sideris spoke to and shared tips on the importance of briefing the restaurant team and purchasing PPE (personal protective equipment) for staff prior to re-opening:

  • Set up rotational teams, so that if one member in a team contracts COVID-19, the other team can work until isolation/recovery is complete within the relevant team.
  • Multi-skilling (cross-functional) – A griller can learn to run the salad station, etc. It’s a chance to upskill your staff to perform more than one role.
  • Bring back staff in batches.
  • Reduce your menu, which in turn will control the number of orders and will limit the amount of interaction of waiters.
  • She suggested that everyone could be put on minimum wages, including top management/GMs, to create a sense of equality and unity.
  • Buy your staff masks and sanitisers.
  • Brief your staff on all protocols before opening and not just on the day of.
  • Check in with staff – everyone has been impacted so differently and it’s important to have an understanding while still laying out your expectations, etc.
  • Social distancing remains incredibly vital.

With the new regulations announced, many more questions have been and will be raised within the restaurant industry:

Fuzlin Massey, Ocean Basket People Support Specialist, spoke about other protocols for restaurant owners/managers to be aware of:

  • Basic necessities not being provided; everyone is experiencing this for the first time.
  • The psychological impact of COVID-19, including emotional and mental trauma.
  • Create structure and predictability within your team; be transparent.
  • Give tools or tips to teach your staff how to manage their wages/money during this time.
  • Always have the contact details of the nearest testing centres and health services available to all staff.
  • Allow a space for sharing personal challenges to help build a sense of community.
  • Have a COVID-19 checklist that is enforced daily.
  • Training and repetition is key.
  • Cleaning checklists should be available and posted in communal staff areas.

Restaurant Collective will also be offering detailed restaurant training workshops on protocols that they are busy finalising. They will share details on this soon. Check the resources link on their website for more information:

Tarryn Corlett, Head of the Eat Out Restaurant Relief Fund shared what was to come for the fund in light of the new announcement: “We are thrilled that restaurants can now open for sit-down dining again. This will no doubt come with a huge responsibility placed on their health and safety measures that they will need to implement. However, with this news, it doesn’t mean that the suffering endured during lockdown is over. Most restaurants will have to play catch-up on all the months of income lost during this difficult time. We are still being asked on a daily basis to re-support restaurants that have received funding, as well as receiving new applications for support, which goes to show that the struggle is still very real and many of them are still facing the harsh reality of closing for good.

The Eat Out Restaurant Relief Fund will continue to support restaurants for as long as we can, dependent on funding, which is why we are still urging the public, corporates, trusts and foundations to support the Fund financially. On top of this, the hunger crisis in South Africa is still a huge factor at play, with thousands of hungry tummies still requiring a warm and nourishing meal. As long as restaurants are able to remain open and provide for our communities in need, we will continue in our efforts to keep them in business.”

Follow Eat Out for further announcements.


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