SA restaurants warn of doom for industry if any lockdowns are imposed
Any form of lockdown will be a death sentence for SA's restaurant industry.
This is the warning from The Restaurant Collective (TRC), which represents sit-down establishments, as the government prepares to discuss possible restrictions at a national command council meeting on Saturday.
“As the fourth wave looms, with the added scare of a new Covid-19 variant, there is talk of further restrictions and lockdowns that would directly affect the sit-down restaurant industry during its busiest time when it needs to be fully operational to see it through the leaner months,” said Grace Harding, TRC spokesperson.
SA scientists this week identified the Omicron variant, which has caused a surge in infection numbers — primarily in Gauteng — and resulted in global travel bans on SA and neighbouring countries.
“Any form of lockdown will be like a death sentence; we have to continue to trade. We cannot handle any more disasters. The owners and crew of restaurants are on their last legs,” said Harding.
She said the TRC disagreed with past restrictions placed on the industry.
“Big events are superspreaders and not sit-down restaurants where people are naturally well-spaced. Alcohol in these venues is also not a problem as it is generally consumed as an accompaniment to a meal. We are not the problem.”
“We are Covid fit.
“We have invested energy and resources in curbing the spread so that it has become a way of life for restaurant owners and their crew.
“Our venues follow all protocols. We need government to spend time identifying where the real problems are using concrete data to formulate specific actions that will alleviate problem areas.
“Work with us and collaborate around finding ways to save lives and livelihoods instead of punishing the entire school because of a few disruptive children.”
The body urged the government “to stop living from crisis to crisis and to focus on a co-ordinated drive to get the population vaccinated so we can continue with a functional economy where we are healthy and safe.
“As an alternative to restrictions, restaurants can require their customers to present a Covid -19 passport. Help us to help you.
“The real problem is that there are insufficient people being vaccinated.
“In other countries they are imposing lockdowns on those who are not vaccinated.
“There is so much ignorance around vaccinations. Government should invest in proper education and drive this via talk shows, radio interviews, community talks, etc. They were able to organise vaccine drives ahead of elections — this should have continued. They need to act to demystify the science and dispel myths,” said Harding.
TRC board member and National Liquor Traders convener Lucky Ntimane said: “We will continue to advocate for vaccination as well as push government on making alcohol restriction decisions based on science and not political considerations and to this end we will fight tooth and nail to keep our doors open and free of any unjust interference from government.”
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