People are still too afraid to venture out to salons, restaurants

Parkhurst restaurant owners, staff, patrons along 7th and 4th streets in Johannesburg, 22 July 2020, during the protest against the restrictions imposed by lockdown and the lack of deadline for restuarants affecting the livehoods of people. Restaurant owners, staff, patrons took to the streets to voice their anger. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

‘Marketing gets harder as you have to spend more time and recourses convincing people of your safety procedures.’

Despite a promising curfew extension, and commitments by salon owners and eateries to adhere to strict safety protocols by limiting the number of guests, South Africans are still in afraid to venture out and unwind.

Mpho Dladla Moalusi, who is the co-owner of the OTG Spa based in Golden Sands and Krugersdorp, said: “As much as we have a cancellation policy, you wake up every morning hoping that you won’t get a cancellation. And marketing gets harder as you have to spend more time and recourses convincing people of your safety procedures.”

An employee cleans the surfaces during early morning disinfection at the 1 Classie Africa beauty salon in downtown on day 94 of COVID-19 pandemic in Johannesburg, South Africa, 29 June 2020. Although hair salons are open, many like this one are struggling to get customers to visit them. Picture: EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK

Risky business:

With marketing from salons and restaurants promising to follow best practice, this just isn’t enough for some patrons who are still too scared to visit restaurants.

Joseph, who works in logistics and spends a lot of his time on the road, says: “I’m still highly skeptical and was warned by a few people about sitting down and eating at restaurants.”

When it comes to going to a barber, he says that he has purchased clippers to cut his own hair at home.

Dillon Frylinck feels exactly the same and adds he hasn’t gone to a restaurant and is not planning to go anytime soon. “So, I haven’t gone to a restaurant but I have gone to a salon. They’re only allowed one client in at a time and everyone wore masks the entire time. I did keep things to a minimum so that I could be as quick as possible to reduce the duration of the contact.

According to government regulations gazetted on 29 April, beauty, nail and hair salons are allowed to retail specified categories of products, with all treatment services still strictly prohibited. Image: iStock

“I think we’re getting to the point where some parts of everyday life do have to take place but it’s about limiting risks as much as possible and avoiding high-risk activities altogether.”

He said the reason he hasn’t gone to a restaurant is that it’s too risky: “I haven’t gone to a ‘normal restaurant’ and won’t be going any time soon. I feel that it’s far too high risk. You’re forced to remove your masks to eat or drink which completely exposes you and anyone else nearby or in the vicinity should you be contagious. I think it’s reckless and completely unnecessary when there are far safer options should you feel that you must dine out. Not to mention the risk to the staff.”

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Fear for others

Mamaili Mamaila said she tries to stay at home as much as possible and the health of herself and those around her came first.

“The main reason I haven’t gone to a restaurant is that both of my parents are above the age of 50 and are chronic. So I want to limit as much exposure to them as possible. I don’t want to go to social spaces where I could possibly contract the virus or touch surfaces that have the virus and touch people that have the virus and bring that to our home.”

Daniel Bosch is the owner of Delta Cafe. His business employs over 50 people and he explains he has had a difficult experience claiming UIF and TERS payments. Bosch feels there is no support from government for the restaurant industry. Picture: Michel Bega

She said she prefered the delivery or collect option.

“I think restaurants have put in an effort to make it easier for us to enjoy their food at home and I rather stick to that than exposing myself to the virus.”

The reality

In townships, where men cut their hair near a taxi rank in Kliptown, it’s business as usual. Barbers continue to cut hair out of their shacks, the most they can do is ask people to wash their hands as they can’t afford sanitiser. The cutting queue is still long but the barber does ask people to stand a few meters apart. Sadly, no one listens.

One gentleman getting his hair cut comments: “ We are out of jobs and can’t afford expensive cuts so we come here. The last thing on our minds is safety.”

In the meanwhile, Mohammed Akter, a self-employed Durban-based father of three says:  “When restaurant restrictions were eased a short while ago, my wife and I decided to treat the kids to Steers, which they love. It was just a way of celebrating being able to eat out for a change and to get over cabin fever. Everything was good. We felt safe and the staff were awesome. We are safe from infection but won’t be eating out again after the video of the Steers staff preparing food without a mask was released.

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