We need to open, restaurants plead with government

Image for illustration. Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

The Restaurant Collective said that if restaurants did not get the go-head soon to resume business, it would be ‘catastrophic’ for the sector.

A restaurant lobby group was disappointed that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not ease restrictions to allow “call and collect” immediately for meals’ service – but is hoping the government will allow sit-down restaurants for Level 3 of the lockdown.

The Restaurant Collective – a group of more than 500 establishments countrywide formed recently – said that if restaurants did not get the go-head soon to resume business, it would be “catastrophic” for the sector.

Ocean Basket CEO Grace Harding, spokesperson for the collective, said the sector employs more than 500,000 directly and indirectly in the supplier industries – and that each of these people, support, on average, six others.

The sector is, according to the “risk-adjusted strategy” being followed by the government, only allowed back in business by Level 2 at the earliest.

Harding said: “The sit-down restaurant and its entire ecosystem employs so many entrepreneurs who are the backbone of this economy. We need to move up to Level 3 with great urgency or we will have severe casualties.”

She said restaurants would apply the strictest of safety and hygiene guidelines, which could be relaxed in Level 2.

“But we need to open … can no longer stay closed.”

Harding said the collective had “already completed a comprehensive Covid-safety and regulations operations guide. Our head of training and education has completed the relevant online training modules for sit-down restaurants”.

She said the situation was dire.

“If we open in Level 3, we are already guaranteed casualties. Any later would be devastating.

“Opening will be successful only if the banks, landlords and relevant municipalities bring support to get us back on our feet.”

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