Restaurant industry eagerly awaits directions for reopening

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The Restaurant Association of SA (Rasa) is hoping to receive communication from the government on Friday about the way forward and a firm date for when they can be back in business.

Wendy Alberts, Rasa spokesperson, said the industry was eagerly awaiting the announcement of the directions for the industry.

Amended regulations allowing restaurant sit-down service to resume under certain conditions during level 3 of the lockdown were gazetted on Thursday night.

“The draft was ready last night and we understand they will be giving us an update today. Our priority is to open and find ways to rebuild the industry, which will take a lot,” Alberts said.

Rasa has this week written to co-operative governance & traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, asking her to allow 70% capacity for patrons. The association also asked the minister to allow alcohol to be sold and consumed on the premises.

The letter, written by Ashton Naidoo of Mooney Ford Attorneys, acknowledges the government’s “efforts” regarding the reopening of restaurants, but calls for more leeway.

“We haven’t had negativity from consumers. In fact, they are frustrated they still can’t go to restaurants. We sought legal advice throughout this process to ensure things are done right and are not misinterpreted,” Alberts said.

The association said it hoped the government would issue a grant to help revive the industry.

The regulations published by Dlamini-Zuma’s department late on Thursday night said restaurants are allowed to open subject to the strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures “as provided for in directions that must be issued by the responsible cabinet member, after consultation with the cabinet member responsible for health”.

On-site consumption of alcohol remains prohibited.