Restaurants Body Protests Over Alcohol Ban

The Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa) chief executive Wendy Alberts is leading a sit-in protest outside the Union Buildings in Tshwane until President Cyril Ramaphosa and his ministers agree to speak to her about the plight of the failing sector.

Alberts said that about 4 000 restaurants out of 11 000 restaurants nationally had closed as a result of the alcohol ban and 9pm curfew imposed in December and an estimated 500 000 out of 1 million jobs had been decimated because of the lockdown.

Alberts said restaurants’ financial models relied on turnover from alcohol sales to ensure businesses remained profitable and with no end in sight to the ban, restaurants were being forced to close.

She said the sector had not received any financial support and restaurateurs had no funds to pay rent and staff as turnover had dissipated.

“There are loads of restaurant doors closing for ever and hundreds of thousands of people are being retrenched, including those working in the value added to the sector… our suppliers, bakers, bread makers and taxi drivers are all affected,” Alberts said.

“It is unnecessary to get to this place… they can’t just shut us down and not tell us when they are going to open us. We need them to open the industry and government cannot just make it an all-or-nothing approach. We are an important contributor to the country’s GDP and an employer of hundreds of thousands of people. You cannot just punish the industry because of a few illegal operators,” she said.

Alberts said restaurants had been asked to post black and white photographs of their empty restaurants and staff who had lost jobs on social media and to hold peaceful protests outside their restaurants, while observing Covid-19 health protocols such as mask wearing and physical distancing.

“I’ll be sitting at the Union Buildings until our president and government talks to us about how we can safely lift the liquor ban and the curfew and how we can support the slowing down of the curve.

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