Coronavirus: How shisanyamas are dealing with new regulations

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo and Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Mar 20, 2020

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Durban - The restrictions that have been placed on the country in the wake of the spread of coronavirus, are set to have far-reaching consequences on social hot spots around the country. 

On Sunday, in his address to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa, announced a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people. 

Added to this, the Covid-19 inter--ministerial committee announced newly gazetted regulations to further limit social gatherings. 

This includes the prohibition of the sale, dispensing and transportation of alcoholic beverages after 6pm on Mondays - Saturdays and after 1pm on Sundays and public holidays. Regardless of size of the establishment, the venues would be confined to a maximum of 50 patrons.

This, according to some in the entertainment industry, will have devastating consequences on their business. 

Durban's Eyadini Lounge owner, Jabulani Zama, criticised the decision to close at 6pm and said that the business would collapse his uMlazi-based business. Zama said Eyadini would offer a take-away service for patrons.

"Between 6pm and 8pm are my peak hours. They did not think about us as business people. Now I have to limit the number of people coming here. I do not only sell alcohol. I also sell food and most people come after 6pm to buy food. This is really sad. There is nothing that we can do but follow what is being said," Zama said. 

He said government needed to engage with banks as the restrictions will have implications on taxes. 

"Sars must then stop collecting tax and the banks must also find the way for business to pay whatever is due to them. We also have workers to pay and have our families to feed, so this is really just a huge blow to us businesses,” he said.

At Max's Lifestyle, a take-away service has been introduced so that patrons won't have to sit inside the venue for prolonged periods. 

"Extra automated sanitisers have been installed all over our precinct and at the main entrance. We urge our customers to do their part and make sure they make use of these services. Our kitchen and shisanyama butchery is open. Please note that because of the extraordinary times we are facing, we are now offering drive-through and take-away services," Max's announced via their Facebook page. 

In Johannesburg, Senzo Zwane, the director of the Ebony Park and Midrand CBD-based Imbizo Shisanyama, said they were strongly considering a delivery service for their business in the wake of the coronavirus. 

He also said they were using a token system to ensure that they did not have in excess of the 50 patrons as determined by government disaster regulations. 

Zwane said they would abide by the regulations and hoped meat sales would carry the business through. 

"We are famous as being Africa’s Ultimate Braai Experience, we get a lot of compliments about the taste of our unique meat," he said.

Zwane said Imbizo Shisanyama would adjust closing times to close at 10pm during the disaster state. On weekends, they close as late as 2am normally.

Meanwhile, the shisanyama has also stepped up efforts to ensure the safety of patrons by procuring the necessary hand sanitizers and has also trained staff on industry best practice. 

It said it would reduce the seating plan to accomodate for the smaller numbers and would keep seats far apart from one another.

"We have trained our staff and printed 3000 pamphlets for them to distribute to the community because we thought what is the use of equipping them with the information if they are the only ones who know it," he said.

But like other small businesses, Zwane said they would have appreciated if government had not applied a blanket approach in limiting numbers as their venues had ample floor space relative to the limit of 50.

"We would have preferred if considerations were made," he said.

Additional reporting by Sihle Mlambo

The Mercury

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