Moo Moo restaurant in Pretoria
  • Restaurants, take-aways and coffee shops will take to the streets to protest against lockdown rules.
  • They'll be dragging tables and chairs into the street in a peaceful protest set for Wednesday, 22 July.
  • The protest is expected to last between 12:00 and 14:00.
  • It follows massive job losses suffered by the industry due to the impact of lockdown rules and the alcohol ban.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Restaurants, take-aways and coffee shops across the country will take to the streets next week to draw attention to the devastating effects of lockdown regulations on the industry.

On Wednesday 22 July, restaurants will be blocking the roads outside their premises by dragging all tables and chairs into the street. The protest is expected to last two hours, from 12:00 to 14:00.

Business Insider has seen a letter sent by the Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa) to the South African Police Service informing them of the protest.

“Due to the continual disregard for the restaurant industry, [Rasa] and various other restaurants, take away shops and coffee shops will be embarking on a nationwide peaceful demonstration,” the letter reads.

“Each restaurant owner will move tables and chairs from their empty restaurants into the street in front of their establishment in protest of the current regulations and to highlight the plight of the industry.”

Rasa is calling it the “Million Seats on the Streets” protest and is also planning to form a human chain from parliament in Cape Town on 24 July.

South Africa’s restaurant sector is on its knees as the coronavirus crisis and stringent lockdown measures threaten the livelihoods of the 800,000 people employed in the industry.

See also: Heartbreaking photos reveal the jobs massacre at SA's top restaurants

Restaurants are desperate to focus attention on their plight. Rasa says it may sue government on behalf of its members for damages suffered by lockdown regulations, including a rebate on liquor licences.

Despite sit-down meals being allowed in restaurants after a months-long ban, alcohol sales with meals are still out of bounds, starving many restaurants of much-needed income.

The reintroduction of the curfew from 21:00 to 04:00 will also knock income. According to industry representatives, restaurants do the majority of their business after 17:00. If restaurant staff need to be in their homes by 21:00, that means they need time to travel, and to clean and close the restaurant. This effectively cuts restaurants to only two hours of trade, between 17:00 and 19:00.

Restaurants also say they have been let down by insurers like Santam and Guardrisk, who are refusing to pay out business interruption claims.

The desperate situation has led to mass job losses across the industry, and the closure of many prominent restaurants, including The Kitchen in Cape Town, where former US first lady Michelle Obama famously had lunch in 2013.

(Compiled by Edward-John Bottomley)

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