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Many more restaurants face closure. Image via Adobe Stock

Lockdown served up cold: SA restaurant sector bemoans lack of engagement

The updated Lockdown Level 4 regulations have thrown South Africa’s restaurant sector into survival mode once again.

inspections hospitality

Many more restaurants face closure. Image via Adobe Stock

For South Africa’s restaurants that have managed to pull through the tough economic times ushered in by the lockdown measures imposed last year, the updated Level 4 lockdown restrictions bring on a feeling of déjà vu.

Many of the country’s restaurants were forced to close their doors for good last year as a result of the lockdown restrictions which for months prevented them from trading and earning income.  When restrictions initially eased, the sector was allowed to offer takeaway meals.

Takeaways and alcohol ban

For many restaurants, operating as a take-out business is not an option as this is not a feasible way to cover costs.   

Previous curfews and alcohol bans also had severe impacts on the restaurant sector by limiting trading hours as well as prohibiting the sale of alcohol.    The latest restrictions released under lockdown Level 4 again prevent the sale of alcohol for onsite and off-site consumption as well as restricting restaurants to selling meals as take-aways.   


In an interview with 702, the South African Restaurants Association’s (RASA) Wendy Alberts said that there had been no engagement with the sector regarding the latest lockdown measures and that the newly implemented restrictions would have devastating effects on an already battered sector.

“This is poor on government’s part, not to have done proper consultation. Call this 14 days or 4 days. It’ll have a drastic impact. It’ll decimate the industry. It’s going to decimate lives. It’s destroying businesses and people will certainly not be able to reopen their businesses,” Alberts said.


Alberts said that there had been no offer of financial assistance by government. She said the sector had suffered tremendously under previous lockdowns last year and that few restaurants would be able to make it through another hard lockdown which restricted them from trading.

“There’s been no discussion and no plan of any type of financial support or any type of support offering in any way whatsoever. There’s no mention of TERS. There’s no deferred payments of taxes or VAT. There’s absolutely no financial reprieve. Fourteen days to us, is a decimated restaurant. We are not in a position to financially carry ourselves through this time,” Alberts said.


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the newly implemented lockdown restrictions would be revised after 14 days, to determine whether they need to be maintained or adjusted.   RASA’s Wendy Alberts said that previous lockdown measures had often been extended beyond the dates announced and that the restaurant sector would see another jobs bloodbath.  

“Government has made no evaluation of the situation or of the needs of the industry.  How many more hundreds of thousands of people immediately today are going to lose their jobs ? And is it ever 14 days?” Alberts said.


Alberts said that restaurant closures were not an effective way to reduce alcohol consumption. She said that restricting restaurants from trading and selling alcohol did not stop people from obtaining alcohol. The illicit trade of alcohol booms under lockdowns, which means a loss of tax revenues for the fiscus.

“Throughout the entire industry, what we have learnt through all the adjusted lockdowns is that it has not worked for the alcohol industry. It opens up illicit trade. It takes the money away from a hard-working, compliant, tax-paying structured environment,” Alberts said.