SA restaurants protest against lockdown rules
South African restaurants will take to the streets on Wednesday, as part of their ‘Million seats on the streets’ protest to draw attention to the devastating effects of the lockdown rules.
The protest which is expected between 12pm and 2pm is a cry following the ban of alcohol sales at restaurants since they opened for sit-down and the massive job losses suffered by the industry due to the impact of lockdown rules.
This past weekend, restaurateurs, waiters and patrons have been sharing #JobsSaveLives on social media, showing just how many jobs have been lost due to the lockdown regulations.
In an interview with eNCA, the CEO of the Restaurant Association of South Africa, Wendy Alberts said that the protest is open to everyone in the tourism and accommodation industry who have been affected by the regulations.
“Every single one of the regulations has an impact on the industry. Right from insurance companies not giving payouts to not being able to get funding from the government. Not being able to get the UIF/TERS, not being able to operate our businesses properly, restrictions on liquor licenses, the curfew, the timing At every single turn, every statement and restriction has difficulty in the industry and has put us back,” said Alberts.
This week, The Restaurant Collective also penned an open letter to the president regarding the same issues.
Spokesperson Grace Harding said that just one year ago, the food and beverage industry contributed R6-billion monthly to the SA economy and employed more than 500 000 people and the majority of these businesses are small entrepreneurial successes.
Harding said fast forward twelve months and it is unlikely any of these businesses will make a profit. She said at least 70 percent have had to retrench employees to save costs and 40 percent have not received any form of government loan or support.
“Since opening on June 29, most are trading below 50 percent of the usual turnover. This loss of cash-flow has depleted businesses and individuals of any reserves and timing are now critical. Without immediate action, these losses are likely to be permanent,” said Harding.
The organisation noted that the contributing factors include no alcohol sales, a curfew of 9pm, customer's uncomfortable to eat out, the loss of jobs, and the implementation of lockdown regulations.
They said that as they begin this journey, the immediate support they need is the speed up of UIT and TERS payments, allow restricted alcohol sales for licensed sit-down restaurants, amend the current curfew time to 10pm, reduce VAT by five percent and keep it that way until June 2021, introduce tax incentives for SMMEs that are able to grow employment, work with banks to reduce credit card and cash deposit fees for one year, reduce rates and utilities costs charged by landlords by 50 percent for one year, impose on utility providers not to demand payments while restaurants were or are unable to trade, continue PAYE deferments and provide an incentives claim system to aid the long-term ability of entrepreneurs to employ people without shouldering tax burdens, collaborate with key financial institutions to to tailor products to those industries hardest hit by Covid-19 and create qualifying criteria for these relief benefits and develop online applications where an automated scorecard can assist with the allocation of funds.