‘Mr President, you are destroying us — it’s a hospitality bloodbath out there’: hospitality sector

10 July 2021 - 09:54
Disoufeng restaurant in Soweto has jumped on the bandwagon of roadhouse dining.
Disoufeng restaurant in Soweto has jumped on the bandwagon of roadhouse dining.
Image: Supplied

“Don't kill our industry with an extension of the level 4 lockdown.”

That was the plea to President Cycril Ramaphosa on Saturday from the Restaurant Association of SA (Rasa) and the Federated Hospitality Association of SA (Fedhasa).

“It is a hospitality bloodbath out there, with no support systems to fall back on,” said Fedhasa chair Rosemary Anderson.

“As an industry, we are not insensitive to the fact that SA is enduring a third wave [of Covid-19 infections], and that too many have lost their lives.

It is a hospitality bloodbath out there, with no support systems to fall back on
FEDHASA National Chair Rosemary Anderson

“Balancing lives and livelihoods is an impossible task and we understand that sacrifices have to be made. However, hotels and restaurants are not just a non-essential lifestyle activity which can be switched on and off to stem the spread of Covid-19.

“Behind the closed restaurant doors and ‘for sale’ signs are thousands of livelihoods that have already been lost and hang in the balance. Every day restaurants are forced to bear the brunt of lockdown regulations. Beyond this, the hospitality sector supports a deep supply chain that is similarly affected.”

Fedhasa said the hospitality sector has not been able to operate fully “even when regulations were at level 1. This is despite putting in place stringent health and hygiene protocols”.

The Restaurant Association said its list of closed restaurants was “spiralling out of control”.

It said in a statement: “Our restaurants need to open under the same restrictions as in April. Our staff need to return to work. We have not been compensated.” 

The association said to have reached out to every cabinet minister in its quest for relief and reprieve. “Empty promises and deaf ears are all we have had in response to our pleas. Government simply doesn’t care that our industry is being destroyed.”

The ban on alcohol sales was the biggest issue facing restaurants. “We cannot survive on the small turnover of takeaways while we are paying full expenses.

“Landlords and banks have refused to come to the party and rentals and loans are the biggest contributors to closure.”

The association said it had been requesting the evidence-based data that prejudices their industry.

“We are appalled that government suggests they have scientific evidence, data and statistical information that prove transmissions are borne out of our restaurants where we follow protocols in controlled spaces and pay huge amounts to be custodians of liquor licences.

“We have requested sight of all the documentation and comparisons to the risk in retail shopping centres and transport. This has not been provided, and without presenting it an industry is now being destroyed.

“Why, if we are deemed high risk, have we not had the vaccine rollout expedited to our front-line staff?”

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