WATCH: A look into how lockdown is affecting Durban guesthouse owner

By Lee Rondganger Time of article published Jul 8, 2021

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Durban - The effects of President Cyril Ramaphosa decision to move the country to Alert Level 4 lockdown at the end of June is beginning to take a toll on the hospital industry.

No more is this evident than at Sica’s Guesthouse in Durban where owner, Janus Horn is counting the costs.

His three-acre Guesthouse in Westridge which caters to conferences and business training events has had to let its 47 staff go home after all the bookings they had for July was cancelled.

This, after the business, was slowly clawing back its losses after the devastating lockdown in March 2020.

“We brought back as many staff as we could to get everything going and it was coming back but then the president spoke,” Horn told IOL.

“And when he spoke that was it. R750 000 gone in cancellations. All the bookings we had for conferences were cancelled. We had 336 people booked for conferences last week and we had over 200 room nights booked in the guest house. And that's excluding this week's accommodation where we had tennis tournaments and other things that was supposed to take place. One speech, and it's gone,” he said.

Horn is angry by the government’s sweeping approach to locking down the country despite businesses like his who had implemented strict Covid-19 protocols were being punished.

This is contrast he said to the taxi industry which was still allowed to cram people into mostly unventilated minibus taxis every day.

“Why did we have to get a Covid compliance officer? Why do we have to go and get a Covid compliance manual? Why do we have to get inspected by the Department of Labour to make sure we comply with every single thing. And then the president decides overnight sorry he's closing us down,” he said.

Not only are the effects of the lockdown affecting Horn’s 47 staff - many of whom support extended families - but it is having a ripple effect on a multitude of other businesses.

For example, Horn buys an estimated R15 000 of products from a local juice maker, spends roughly R100 000 on a local butcher for meat, buys 120 dozen eggs a week from a local poultry farm, and uses about 30 litres of milk a day in addition to the many loaves of bread he buys.

This is in addition to the R100 000 of stock he purchases from Makro every month.

“They are all not going to get a thing from me this month,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said that the lockdown regulations would be reviewed on July 11 but with no indication yet that South Africa’s 3rd wave has peaked or beginning to dip, speculation is rife that the lockdown will go beyond Sunday.

Horn however hopes that sense prevails and the regulations will be adjusted to allow him and countless other businesses in similar positions in the hospitality industry to operate again.

“As much as this affects me and my family, I worry about my staff and I worry about my suppliers and I worry about everyone in the industry… I understand we are in a pandemic, but I think it's a very badly managed pandemic. Because if common sense prevailed, you would still have us opening and trading. It's like someone's just put a gun to your head and pull the trigger, that's, that's, that's how it feels,” he said.


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