As the country has been battling a third wave of Covid-19, many have been preparing for the announcement of harsher restrictions. President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed South Africans on Sunday 27 June regarding the government’s approach to combating the next wave of infections.
A new adjusted level 4 lockdown will be implemented for a period of 14 days. All gatherings are prohibited including social, political, and religious. Beaches and parks will remain open, but no gatherings will be permitted.
For restaurants and bars, the level 4 restrictions will include:
The alcohol bans of 2020 had disastrous implications for the hospitality sector and the South African wine industry has lost more than R7bn in direct income since the first ban. In January 2021, the Restaurant Association of South Africa reported that 7% of its database had made the decision to close due to the third alcohol ban. How many will be next? And while The National Coronavirus Command Council said in April of this year that tourism sector frontline workers should be prioritised for vaccinations, there has been no evidence of this proposed rollout.
“We need somebody in government to take a stand to support the restaurant industry. There is no plan for financial support or deferred payment or tax deferment or halting of leases,” says Wendy Alberts, CEO of the Restaurant Association of South Africa. “We’ve been called to close our businesses and we’re not in a position to trade, yet we’re still expected to pay a hundred percent of our debts. We still haven’t had any expediting of the vaccine – so if we are at the forefront and we’re targeted yet again as an industry that is labelled responsible for the spread of COVID, then why are we not upfront getting the vaccines? “
“The efforts taken to secure vaccines and speed-up the vaccination programme is a welcome development. However, mass vaccination of South African residents is the only solution in the industry’s fight against COVID-19 – and we still believe it to be the way forward,” says Rosemary Anderson, National Chairperson of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa.
While restaurants can still operate to a degree, the ban on alcohol, an earlier curfew and no sit-down service could be catastrophic for an industry that is just hanging on by a thread.