New regulations on restaurants welcome but incomplete, say restaurateurs

Sylvester Ncube from Ottawa Creek Spur in Edenglen putting the finishing touches on their preparations for opening for business amid Covid -19 measures being relaxed soon, 19 June 2020. The new regulations will allow for restaurants to serve meals under strict conditions. Spur will be enforcing social distancing of all their tables, only using every second one and using designated directions for walkways, they have screen dividers and a strict sanitising and food delivery protocol that the staff will be trained in. Picture: Neil McCartney

If restaurants can open, these other government protocols could have been prepared and delivered, restauranteers explain.

As restaurants, cinemas and casinos received a thumbs up from government on Thursday to get ready to open pending approved legislation, as the country migrates from stricter regulations to Advanced Level 3 of the lockdown, the restaurant association says government needs move a little faster to clarify the reopening of sit-down restaurants.

In a last-minute update to Level 3 regulations, the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) lifted the ban on gatherings at restaurants, theatres, casinos including museums, provided they followed strict health protocols adhering to lockdown regulation.

The industries do however need to wait a little longer as governments still have to publish new sector-specific protocols.

Restaurant Association of South Africa’s Wendy Alberts said it seemed government did not understand the dire situation that most of the industry was under measures to curb the pandemic a result of the lockdown.

Alberts said their lawyers were in communication with the department of tourism appealing for more clarity on when these new sector-specific protocols would be published.

While government informs industries that they’re no longer banned, the minister still has to issue sector-specific health guidelines following a consultation with the health minister, which Alberts says takes more time, thus crippling organisations even further.

Cinemas, theatres, casinos and restaurants are technically unbanned, but cannot trade until further rules are put in place, a move the union says highlights evident apathy.

“There remains no clarification on dates and protocols,” she said in an eNCA interview which may result in added frustration.

“My big concern is government does not understand the state of the industry, or how volatile the industry is.”

If restaurants could open, these protocols could have been prepared and delivered.

She argues that many people will fall off the employment sector as a result of delayed results.

“We’re losing more and more restaurants and losing staff.”

For more summarised regulation on cinemas, theatres and casinos, click here.

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