Leisure industry opens under strict rules
CAPE TOWN - Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has said that restaurants, bars, casinos, cinemas, conference venues and other hospitality sites would be allowed to reopen from Monday, but leisure travel could still be prohibited.
Under the updated Kubayi-Ngubane said level 3 regulations would put no limitations on the number of guests a restaurant or casino can accommodate, but conference venues would still be required to limit their guests to under 50.
The Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa), which had earlier sent the Tourism Department a legal letter demanding clarity on the regulations, welcomed the move. Kubayi-Ngubane told a livestreamed media briefing that no alcohol would be consumed on-site, and buffets remained strictly outlawed.
However she encouraged South Africans to support the sector.
Alcohol sales are known to drive restaurant profits.
Under level 3 regulations, alcohol may only be sold off-consumption from Monday to Thursday between 9am and 5pm. Kubayi-Ngubane said any changes to that policy would be announced at a later stage by her Department of Trade and Industry (dti) counterpart, Ebrahim Patel.
“We’re hoping South Africans will go out and have a meal in a restaurant,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
“We don’t want to be reckless about reopening. We have to balance lives and livelihoods.” Kubayi-Ngubane said all customers, delivery agents and staff needed to be screened and sanitised before entering any venue. “Masks covering the face and nose must be worn at all times,” she said, “except when eating or drinking”, and 1.5m social distancing measures must be observed. Menus should be offered as no-touch options or sanitised after every use.
“Leisure travel is not yet allowed so you can’t book accommodation in a hotel for leisure purposes, only for business. Self-drive travel, within the province, is allowed subject to hot spot announcements.”
She said her department was taking small steps in reopening the sector as they understood it was of vital importance to the economy. But, she added: “There’s an aggressive pandemic: government is doing what it needs to, people are dying, the rate of infection continues to increase. We do not want to have our health systems overwhelmed. We need to contain the pandemic so our health system does not collapse.”
Kubayi-Ngubane said her department was taking lessons from other countries and watching how they were reopening their tourism sectors. “I am passionate about tourism, about getting back to work. I realise people are losing their jobs.” She said restaurants, casinos, coffee shops and other venues should provide regular training for staff while casino punters would be limited to no more than 50 percent of the gambling floor space, and for tracing purposes, records must be kept of all staff, delivery personnel and guests. Kubayi-Ngubane said guests should be denied access if they failed to comply with screening, sanitation and mask-wearing. She said conference venues would not be allowed to host more than 50 people and were expected to sanitise microphones and podiums after every new use by a delegate.
Records of all attendees must be kept. Welcoming the announcement, Rasa and their attorneys, Mooney Ford, said: “We personally thank our Minister of Tourism for her tireless efforts to open the restaurants under these favourable conditions… We now only await the signed directions.” Rasa chief executive Wendy Alberts said: “In respect of the sale of alcohol, the minister has stated that it is in the purview of the dti, and I have already instructed our attorneys to address a letter dealing with the in-store consumption of alcohol.
“For now we take the win and look forward to rebuilding the industry that we all love.”