On Thursday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa extended the State of Disaster would to 15 January 2021 and identified Nelson Mandela Bay as a Covid-19 hotspot alongside the Sarah Baartman district in the Eastern Cape, and the Garden Route in the Western Cape.
In his address, the president imposed stricter lockdowns for these areas including a stricter curfew from 10pm to 4am, alcohol sales will only be on sale from 10am to 6pm, from Monday to Thursday, and alcohol consumption in public spaces is prohibited to prevent large gatherings. Additionally, religious gatherings are now restricted to 100 people indoors and 250 outdoors, while funeral gatherings are prohibited.
Claudia Lambropoulos, manager of LA KOUZINA, a Greek establishment in Port Elizabeth, said they were not surprised by the president’s address: “It has affected our business already. Some companies have cancelled their end of the year functions. Business is terrible, we haven’t even made close to what did in November last year. The president did not shock us.”
She added that they would also be operating at earlier times to get their orders out by 8.30pm.
Zyda Wallace from Savages Fine Food, a breakfast and bistro-style cafe in Port Elizabeth, said they did not expect to be affected too much after the announcement. “We are a daytime restaurant, we do not trade in the evening and we hope we won’t be affected too badly. However, we will be pushing our sales more on the takeaway side.”
Wendy Albert’s of the Restaurant Association Of South Africa said: “As an industry we need to ensure that each and every establishment in the restaurant sector compiles to the regulations and protocols. We need to encourage all our patrons to take responsibility avoid close contact, confined spaces in crowded places.
“We as individuals need to do everything to ensure compliance. Any threat of a lockdown is disastrous and will possibly hurt the restaurant sector further. We as an association is here for the restaurant industry and if you need any advice or are facing challenges with patrons and challenges in Covid-19 compliance.”
Muse Restaurant’s Allan Bezuidenhout said they would weather the storm for any worst-case scenario.“If alcohol sales are continued that is a bonus and should be allowed. But in the long run we will be okay.”
While Ramaphosa mentioned the Western Cape in his Thursday address, national stricter measures were not imposed in the province as originally expected. Since November, the province has seen a resurgence of the infection rates in some areas.
Restaurants in the Western Cape were notably concerned as the festive season would see a number of tourists flock to the province for December holidays.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said the province was investigating whether a “blunt instrument” like a “mini lockdown” was what’s needed to control the possible resurgence of Covid-19.
Julia Hattingh, the owner of Reverie Social Table in Cape Town, said: “We only opened a couple weeks ago, if stricter lockdown happens, it would be devastating. If the president announces that alcohol should not be sold then that could cause the closure of many places. We have not had any international guests, we are relying on locals to keep us afloat. It is a bit scary.”
Richard Rudhman, manager of Black Sheep Club located in Kloof Street, said all they were trying to do was to survive. “There is so much we can do. We have been trying to fight since the lockdown. Fight for my staff and myself so that we can put food on our tables.”