Hospitality industry workers stranded

Nodumo Makaza 

Hospitality industry workers who include waiters, waitresses and bartenders have been left without a sustainable income after the closure of most restaurants due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

  The Level 4 lockdown allows the sale of prepared, hot food only in deliveries. Customers cannot visit restaurants to get takeaways and restaurants can only open for food delivery between 09.00hr and 19.00hr.

  “Restaurants and similar places will be open for delivery only, and that means customers don’t come to the shop but the food goes to the customers.The experience all over the world has been that this is a better way of limiting the movement of people,” said Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel.

  This has led to some restaurants like Spurs, Nandos and Ocean Basket not to open under Level 4 lockdown, as they argue that it does not make business sense.

  Nando’s South Africa CEO Mike Cathie said opening for delivery only will make Nando’s and franchise partners lose more money than being closed. “We are focused on preserving the jobs of thousands of employees into the future, and cannot add to the already enormous weekly losses we are suffering,” he said.

  Patience Toiwa a waitress at Ristretto, a restaurant in Morningside, says her future is uncertain.

  “I am not a permanent worker at the restaurant. I depend on tips so I am not eligible for a UIF grant. When the restaurant closed I lost my source of income and I can’t even afford to pay rent and buy food. I’m currently staying at my friend’s place. I am not even sure when the restaurant will open,” she says.

  Jerome Ndlovu, a manager at a Mugg and Bean restaurant says he will soon be on the streets begging for food and accommodation, as all his savings have run out and he has not been able to receive any government food parcels.

  “I’m currently living on the mercy of my friends. If this lockdown doesn’t end soon we will be on the streets begging for food. I haven’t received any help from any government programme and we are starving,” he said.

  The Restaurants Association of South Africa says they were for hoping for the delivery and collection option, which would have changed the scale at which restaurants opened. 

  Some fast food brands that have opened for deliveries under Level 4 lockdown include Chicken Licken, Debonnairs Pizza, Steers, KFC (some outlets), McDonald’s (selected stores) and Burger King (limited stores).

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