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  • The Restaurant Association of South Africa is working on an urgent submission to government, demanding an explanation of the reasons why places of worship will be allowed to open during Level 3, and not eateries.
  • Restaurant owners contend that their premises offer low risk of Covid-19 infection, given strict new protocols that are being introduced.
  • They can't survive on collections and deliveries alone, they say.
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Restaurants are demanding an explanation from government on why they should remain shut while South African places of worship, such as mosques and churches, can reopen during lockdown Level 3 on 1 June

Restaurant owners contend that their premises offer low risk of Covid-19 infection, given strict new protocols that are being introduced.

On average, in winter, about 150 people visit a sit-down restaurant during an eight-hour trading period; this translates to six tables - or at its busiest 15 to 20 tables - in a 150 square metre area, says Ocean Basket’s CEO Grace Harding, who’s the spokesperson for the Restaurant Collective, an organisation which represents sit-down restaurants. “Our restaurants are considerably safer and less congested than public transport or standing in supermarket queues. We are responsible and organised and willing.”

Harding says that restaurants were initially judged to have one of the highest potentials for risk of transmission, but the facts have changed.

Globally restaurants have very successfully introduced measures that include physical distancing, the wearing of masks and other protective equipment, sanitation as well as twice daily temperature checks, says Harding.

The ban on restaurants doesn’t make sense, says Wendy Alberts, CEO of the Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA).

The RASA is working with its lawyers on an urgent submission to government demanding an explanation

“This is unconstitutional and an act of discrimination. (It’s) really not fair on our restaurants and the huge amount of staff that are still unemployed.”

Some 800,000 people are employed in the restaurant industry, says Alberts. She says “dozens of restaurants” are going out of business every day.

Harding stresses that restaurants cannot survive by deliveries and take-aways alone. Under Level 4, restaurants were only allowed to do deliveries, while in Level 3 collections and drive-throughs will be allowed.

A typical sit-down restaurant that opens for delivery and take-away only, and with the reduced staff and costs to match activity, is only able to break-even once it achieves about one-third of the sales turnover that it would normally achieve with full sit-down allowed, she says. The reason for this is that delivery and takeaway is an expensive channel to service with the extra packaging costs and delivery fees incurred.

Research by the Restaurant Collective shows that sit-down restaurants will suffer a net loss if they only do deliveries and takeaways:

Source: Restaurant Collective

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