Lockdown Level 2: This is why restaurants might be forced to close again

Updated 1 September 2020, 13:25

On 1 September 2020, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane issued on a warning to restaurants stating that she is aware of non-compliance of restaurants regarding curfew, mask-wearing, and social-distancing regulations. “This does not only risk these businesses licenses but also endangering the safety of their loyal customers and dedicated workers.”, reads the Minister’s letter.

It also reads that the Minister written letters to restaurants “insisting and appealing yet again for their co-operation, as the sector cannot risk having any of our hardearned gains made thus far reversed as this will have devastating impact on the recovery of the sector.”

The restaurant industry has re-opened and on-site consumption of alcohol has been given the green light. But after just a few weeks, several reports on social media have come in about restaurants that have already let their strict protocols fall by the wayside. With this, Wendy Alberts of Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) has circulated a message to the industry pleading for compliance in fear of another restaurant lockdown, which would be detrimental to the hospitality sector.

RASA’s message reads:

“Dear restaurants,

It is with a heavy and concerned heart that I write this message today.

It has become apparent that various owners believe that the current regulations do not apply to them. We have worked so hard to open our sector and much heartache has been caused due to the restrictions and full closure of our beautiful restaurants.

To date we have had reports of restaurants operating past curfew, ignoring the social distancing protocols and not ensuring masks are used, etc. These incidents have sprung up all over social media and [have] since garnered the attention of the Minister of Tourism and the NCCC. Due to these infractions, consideration is being held to impose stricter protocols or even reverting to off-site consumption and even to close the restaurant sector.

It is unthinkable that due to a few operators not following the rules, the entire industry may suffer again. As unfortunate as it is, we must therefore encourage the reporting of non-compliant restaurants so that we can save the industry as a whole. We urge everyone to follow the regulations and hope that everyone stays safe.

Serving you,
Wendy, RASA and Ashton Mooney Ford Attorneys.”

Eat Out further reached out to Wendy, who highlighted a few frightening incidences that have occurred at some restaurants within the past few weeks:

  • Curfew: Allowing patrons to stay on beyond 10pm, which means staff are also breaking curfew.
  • Contact tracing: Allowing patrons to decline signing the register upon arrival and then letting them stay to eat.
  • Masks: Not enforcing mask rules, including when patrons arrive at the door and refuse to wear a mask – restaurateurs are in some cases not turning them away and also allowing patrons to not wear masks when blatantly not eating or drinking.
  • Distancing: Restaurants are being tagged in images of people greeting with hugs/kisses etc, including those who aren’t in the same household.

While no additional announcements have been made by the government, we stand in support of our industry and urge everyone to continue to practise strict protocols to avoid any more hardships to our fantastic restaurants.

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