We can save the industry, says restaurant association as Ramaphosa puts alcohol back on the menu

01 February 2021 - 21:44 By naledi shange
Restaurateurs say they will be able to make a living and keep staff in jobs now that they can sell liquor again.
Restaurateurs say they will be able to make a living and keep staff in jobs now that they can sell liquor again.

The Restaurant Association of SA (Rasa) on Monday expressed its gratitude at the easing of the lockdown regulations, which had threatened to cripple the industry.

“We have an opportunity to save the industry,” said CEO Wendy Alberts shortly after President Cyril Ramaphosa's address on Monday night.

“Let’s please stand in unity and support each other and do everything to keep our staff and patrons safe. Let’s promise each other to be responsible in our businesses and do everything possible to keep the lifting of the liquor ban,” she said to fellow restaurant owners.

Last week, Alberts and other Rasa members staged a three-day sit-in at the Union Buildings where they pleaded with Ramaphosa to lift the ban, saying their industry was facing complete and utter destruction, particularly because of the alcohol ban.

They were struggling to attract customers with booze not forming part of the menu.

Alberts had penned a letter on behalf of the association's 11,000 members, pleading with Ramaphosa.

“In that letter we called for an interministerial meeting to have discussions. We felt consultations were quite thin with government and that communication was certainly closed off since the last announcement on December 28,” she said.

On Monday, with booze sales back on the cards, Alberts said it was “an iconic day”.

“We wholeheartedly thank the president and all the various ministers for their urgency and for hearing our desperate pleas to save the restaurant industry.”

With the start of curfew being moved from 9pm to 11pm, restaurants can operate until 10pm, giving staff and customers an hour to get home before the curfew starts.

On-site consumption of alcohol is now permitted seven days a week from 10am until 10pm.

Other licensed establishments that sell alcohol for off-site consumption, such as bottle stores and supermarkets, may sell alcohol from Mondays to Thursdays, from 10am to 6pm.