Restaurants, cinemas and casinos are now unbanned – but must wait for more rules before opening
- A late-night update to lockdown regulations on Thursday formally unbanned gatherings at conferences, restaurants, casinos, cinemas, theatres, museums, and libraries.
- But all of those sectors must still wait for specific safety rules they have to follow, and those rules haven't been published yet, leaving no legal way for establishments to open.
- The restaurant sector immediately promised to make legal demands that its directions be urgently published.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
A number of leisure activities were technically unbanned under Alert Level 3 of SA's lockdown late on Thursday night – but in a way that still makes it illegal for establishments to actually open their doors.
Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma gazetted a set of amendments to the primary rules that govern lockdown which came into immediate effect as of Thursday, even though they were published after 23:00.
Those amendments create new exceptions to the otherwise blanket ban on gatherings for conferences, casinos, cinemas, restaurants, and museums and libraries.
But in each case gatherings are allowed only under adherence to sector-specific safety protocols, which have not yet been published for any of those sectors, making it impossible to comply.
Only salons and tattoo parlours have had such rules released since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the plan to further relax lockdown restrictions.
The late-night amendments say that conferences "restricted to business purposes" may take place, and cinemas and theatres may open, as long as all host no more than 50 people at a time.
Casinos do not have such an absolute limit on visitors. Instead their patrons must stay 1.5 metres away from one another, while the regulations also impose "a restriction on the number of persons allowed in the casino to not more than 50 percent of the available floor space".
Just why casinos must close off half their floor space to customers, rather than spreading them across the entire available area, is not explained.
That percentage limit, the new regulations say, may be increased.
Restaurants – and museums, galleries, libraries, and archives – get neither a hard limit not any mention of floorspace percentages; gatherings there are to be controlled entirely by another set of regulations that must be issued for that purpose.
All the sectors are enjoined to "strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures as provided for in directions that must be issued" by their respective cabinet ministers, after consultation with health minister Zwelini Mkhize.
The Cogta regulations do contain a handful of specific rules, including:
- Cinemas must sell all tickets "through a booking system". (It is not specified that this must be an online system.)
- Theatres must operate with a maximum crew of 15 people, and that includes extra staff dealing with live streaming or recording.
Shortly after publication of the amendments, the Restaurant Association of SA told members it considered the new rules "vague" and as passing the buck. It promised that its attorneys would be "requesting the immediate release of these directions" that would allow sit-down restaurants to open their doors.
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