Huge relief for hospitality sector as country moves to level 2 restrictions
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Cape Town - Key sectors have expressed their support for – and relief at – the easing of lockdown restrictions following the most recent presidential address.
Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa) welcomed the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, which it said had hampered normal operations within the hospitality sector and in some sectors, such as larger restaurants and venues, it had made operating for the past months financially unviable.
“We understand the delicate balancing act that the government has had to tread in saving lives and securing livelihoods,” said Fedhasa chairperson Rosemary Anderson.
“However, more than 18 months since restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 were first introduced to equip our health services so they could cope with the pandemic, the hospitality sector continues to bear the brunt of curfews, liquor bans and limits on gathering sizes. There are not many businesses which would be able to continue to survive with their operations so severely curtailed.”
What was now needed was assurances that no further restrictions or shutdowns will be implemented, to allow international travellers to book flights and accommodations ahead with ease of mind, said Anderson.
“Confidence in the government’s pathway going forward is vital to the hospitality industry’s recovery.”
The South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) expressed its support for the adjustment to the curfew to 11pm to 4am and an increase in gatherings to 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors as a positive step to support the recovery of bars, restaurants and tavern businesses.
Salba, however, raised concerns over the continued prohibition of off-consumption sales over weekends.
Salba chairperson Sibani Mngadi said: “We have approached the Ministerial Advisory Council and government representatives at Nedlac. None of them have been able to provide any justification for this or some scientific evidence to support the decision.”
The association said the restrictions only further encouraged the illicit alcohol industry and damaged legitimate enterprises in the process, as well as causing damage to the supply chain.
Premier Alan Winde said the adjusted alert level 2 was a welcome first step in the country’s economic recovery.
“This will provide some assistance to the Western Cape’s hospitality sector in particular, which remains an important job creator,” said Winde.
Winde noted concerns over when the National State of Disaster would come to an end.
“The hard truth is that we cannot be in this State of Disaster forever, and we need to have a frank discussion on how we will continue to manage Covid-19 in the future without relying on this extreme instrument.