Minister says 9pm curfew crippled restaurants extends, it to 10pm
Restaurants had something to cheer about on Thursday when the state announced trading hours will be extended by an extra hour during the lockdown.
Restaurants can now trade until 10pm.
However, the sale of alcohol inside restaurants remains prohibited, a decision that has irked many business owners linked to the Restaurant Association of SA who engaged in a national protest last week.
The association’s Wendy Alberts said: “We welcome the decision of extending operating hours at restaurants, but the industry has suffered a lot. We will continue to fight for the sale of alcohol at our restaurants.”
Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said the current 9pm curfew had a crippling effect on eateries.
“Restaurants are unable to serve dinner to their customers, which means they are unable to operate at peak time. We believe that the decision to extend the curfew time will boost their revenue generation.”
Kubayi-Ngubane said Cabinet has also eased travel regulations, with the public now permitted to travel for leisure within their own provinces. Travelling to other provinces for leisure was still prohibited.
“No more than two people per room except for a nuclear family (parents and their children). Establishments are legally obliged to require and keep a copy of proof of identity. Short-term home rental and sharing remains closed.”
Tour operators have also been given the green light to resume guided tours in open safari vehicles, adhering to social distancing and maximum ventilation.
Kubayi-Ngubane said only 4 000 companies in the tourism and hospitality sector had benefited from the R200 million tourism relief fund after they received 7 284 applications.
Manny De Freitas, DA spokesperson on tourism, criticised the Cabinet’s revised regulations, stating the minister and her department knew nothing about the challenges faced by the sector.
“The curfew will now start at 10pm, meaning that staff and anyone patronising restaurants would, in reality, need to leave such establishments at 9pm (the existing curfew time) to get home in time to meet the new curfew.”
He also questioned the new intra-provincial leisure regulations.
“Tourism establishments will continue to be hamstrung, because they will not receive sufficient guests to be able to continue operating,” he said.