- Food and leisure establishments have been hard-hit by the recent lockdown restrictions implemented by the South African government over a week ago
- This has left many small restaurants in dire straits, scratching their heads about how they will make ends meet
- A very popular proposal has been trending on social media calling for restaurants to utilise parking space outside of the establishments as 'roadhouses'
By Justin Steyn - Freelance Journalist
Restaurants have been feeling the brunt after the president, Cyril Ramaphosa, placed South Africa under Level 4 lockdown. However, a proposal to use parking spaces as roadhouses may be the way forward, encouraging safe social distancing as well as providing an income for dependent staff.
South Africa was placed under a two-week adjusted lockdown on 26 June by President Cyril Ramaphosa due to concerns about the increasing Covid-19 infections, the Citizen reported.
Sandra Jansen, owner of the Khaya Kwa restaurant in Limpopo, said that although they have implemented the roadhouse method, they have noticed a dramatic drop in sales.
“Unfortunately this only pays a few minor bills. Our sales have dropped by 75%, we currently have two kitchen staff, a supervisor and only one waiter on duty.
"We are trying to give all of our staff a chance to work but there isn’t enough business to accommodate everyone. The roadhouse brings in some money, but our take-aways are a break-even because we are so far away from town,” she said.
Meanwhile, Wayne Plotz of Buffalo Grill in Rietfondtein said that their restaurant cannot afford to resort to the roadhouse strategy as equipment is expensive.
“We are not able to buy trays for a roadhouse as we also see this as an unnecessary expense. However, the restaurant has moved its benches outside and far apart from each other to practice social distancing.”
One restaurant which has fully embraced the roadhouse method is the Lookout Deck in Plettenberg Bay. The restaurant’s general manager, Jeanine Kruger, said they were excited about having customers from Gauteng visit their restaurant as they had not seen much business in the 2020 lockdown period.
“We now let our customers order via WhatsApp and ask them to wait inside their cars. We then take the order to them. Even though this does generate income, some of our waiters are unable to come to work for days due to a lack of business.”
In the meantime, the Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) has approached Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel’s cabinet for immediate consideration to cease all rental and bank loan payments as a result of the restrictions placed on the industry in Level 4
The organisation’s CEO, Wendy Alberts, said that RASA is calling on Patel for a lease and loan payment deferment for 60 days.
Alberts said that RASA deems it unconstitutional to deny the industry an opportunity to work and for businesses to be given a fair opportunity to trade to full potential to support their debts without providing compensation.
“The industry is drowning in debt and simply will not survive the Level 4 lockdown without the support of government by bringing support to halter the debt payments that will ultimately destroy what is left of the restaurant industry in South Africa.”
She added that the government has a duty to support their industry, to effectively consult with them and to find solutions that drive support and ultimately bring minimal economic impact to the restaurant sector.
“We are awaiting an urgent outcome on this proposed solution and honestly trust that Minister Patel views this consideration as urgent and of high importance,” she said.
Speculations abound about extension of lockdown adjusted Level 4 this weekend
Meanwhile, in the Government Gazette published on Tuesday, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa stated that a decision will be made in regard to South Africa's current lockdown status of adjusted Level 4 this weekend, Briefly News reported earlier.
Mthethwa stated that businesses such as gyms, fitness centres and cinemas will remain closed without exceptions, BusinessTech reported.
Attending churches, political gatherings, social gatherings and faith-based events have been prohibited. Attending such gatherings is a criminal offence and offenders could face up to six months in prison.
However, Mthethwa added that restrictions placed on faith-based gatherings will remain in place until Sunday, 11 July and will be reviewed thereafter.
Do you think the economy can handle another hard lockdown and why?
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