The bell has tolled for on-site dining, says industry

The bell has tolled for on-site dining, says industry

Restaurant body, The Restaurant Collective, has released a statement spelling out what the current level 4 regulations mean for the restaurant industry – the death of dining.

Grace Harding, spokesperson of The Restaurant Collective, said there is no logical reason for restaurants to be closed.

Harding said that they can accept the curfew and alcohol restrictions, but not being able to open for on-site dining is the death knell for the industry.

The South African restaurant business is still reeling over last year’s lockdowns, which saw alcohol sales banned, on-site dining banned and the number of patrons that can be served lowered.

Some restaurants have responded by sharing the meals they are able to deliver, while others have chosen to not trade for the next two weeks until the president addresses the country about the next steps that the government will be taking in fighting Covid-19.

Here is the rest of the restaurant body’s statement to the National Command Council

We are not the problem

Sit-down restaurants are environments where people who know one another come to sit-down and enjoy meals together.

There is minimal movement among tables and social distancing is easy to enforce as seating arrangements are already in place.

Many restaurants have popular sit-down outdoor areas that provide the ideal spacing and ventilation.

From the outset, a sit-down restaurant has a completely different, controlled set of operations compared to a bar or take-away venue.

We respect and understand the dangers of Covid.

The Restaurant Collective has stringent Covid safety protocols in place which it developed using global best practice and has freely shared for the sake of the entire industry.

We continue to distribute and reiterate these protocols and have demonstrated our support by showing leadership, engaging and providing free information and support for everyone in our industry.

There remains no scientific basis to continue to discriminate against us.

The survival of the entire industry is incumbent upon sit-down restaurants restarting, because take-aways are not a solution to save our restaurants. Picture: Unsplash

Take-away is not an option

A sit-down restaurant’s expenses far outstrip those of any other form of eatery and cannot just be switched off when limited trade is enforced.

The revenue model of a sit-down restaurant cannot be adapted for take-aways overnight.

And many sit-down restaurant offerings simply do not work in a take-away model.

The expenses of running a restaurant far surpass any possible income that could be made from take-aways – rent cannot be covered, loan repayments cannot be honoured, staff cannot be paid.

Landlords and financial institutions are under pressure and the industry faces major shut downs across the country.

The survival of the entire industry is incumbent upon sit-down restaurants restarting, because take-aways are not a solution to save our restaurants. Thousands of restaurants have already closed down.

There are now approximately 30 000 sit-down restaurants in SA – each employing an average of 30 people.

The value chain of damage is devastating.

The Solution is simple

Our plea is not only about survival now, but the impact on this industry into the future.

If we do not open on Monday 12th July at the latest, the impact will shatter the sector.

There will be no bouncing back from this and thousands more will remain unemployed and desperate.

There is no TERS or other financial support for employees.

Restaurant owners have nothing left in reserve. And we want to keep people safe.

There is precedent for level 4 amendments: Speaking at the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) on Covid-19 press briefing on Tuesday, Dlamini-Zuma said: “Under this gazetted Level 4, work is permitted in most industries, so the livelihoods are being protected whilst we are trying to save lives” as she announced that hotels may operate at full capacity.

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