A McDonald's take-out bag. Photo: Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider
  • From 1 June, collections and drive-throughs will be allowed at SA restaurants.
  • Under Level 3, off-premises alcohol sales will also be permitted - and licensed restaurants want to be part of this.
  • Restaurants do not expect a big boost from Level 3 sales - but a large part of the market, who can't afford delivery fees, are expected to buy staple meals from fast-food outlets now.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

While the final regulations are still awaited, the presidency confirmed that drive-throughs at restaurants can re-open on 1 June, when Level 3 kicks in. Patrons can also now collect from restaurants, which have until now only been open for deliveries.

Source: Presidency

Consumption of food and alcohol in restaurants, bars, shebeens and taverns remains prohibited. Off-premises sales of alcohol will be permitted on some weekdays, President Cyril Rampahosa said during a briefing on Sunday evening.

Restaurants with alcohol licences should also be allowed to sell alcohol to clients on Level 3, says Wendy Alberts, CEO of the Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA).

While final clarity of who will be permitted to sell booze will be contained in government regulations, Alberts says her organisation is in talks with the Liquor Board about licensing.

Alberts says that the majority of restaurants are now open, but most are still only at 20% of capacity. She doesn’t expect that collections and drive-throughs will deliver a big boost to their sales – although lower-income groups will now be able to afford to buy staple meals from restaurants.

Currently, delivery costs are prohibitively expensive for a large part of the population.

Ordering a KFC Streetwise Two on Uber Eats will cost you R57.90, which includes service fees. This is much more expensive that getting the meal from KFC directly - a Streetwise Two with a small chips usually cost R32.90.

READ | You can order a 5-course meal from some of SA’s top restaurants – at cut-rate prices

One restaurant that has been shut during Level 4 is Ocean Basket, and its CEO Grace Harding says the company will “disappear” if it doesn’t open on 1 June with the others.

Still, only doing take-aways and deliveries will also leave it “impossible to sustain ourselves”, she added, estimating that the group will get a maximum of 15% of its usual turnover from these sales.

From government’s actions, it's clear that it views restaurants as a very low contributor to the SA economy, Harding says. “They have not factored in the massive ecosystem it supports and the entrepreneurial nature of the business.”

Harding adds that government’s judgement that restaurants have the highest potential for the risk of transmission is misplaced. Restaurant protocols include physical distancing, masks and screening that address these risks. “International best practices are being implemented very successfully.”

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