A number of businesses would be able to reopen under an ‘advanced’ level 3 lockdown, including sit-down restaurants – with a decision on the move expected on Wednesday, 17 June.
This is according to small business development minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, who has spoken to various media this week.
Ntshavheni told Power 98.7, that the decision to open sit-down restaurants again after nearly three months of lockdown, is necessitated by a lack of relief funds to support businesses in the sector.
“The impact on the economy was severe and we went to cabinet after the survey was done and said we don’t have enough relief measures to support small businesses.
“We are better off supporting businesses as they come back to the economy because now you are dealing with the viability of businesses,” Ntshavheni said.
South African restaurant closures are beginning to pile up, according to several restaurant bodies.
The Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa) estimates that restaurants employ around 800,000 people in South Africa, while a new lobby group – the Restaurant Collective – says that the industry is ready, and desperate to open.
Restaurant Collective’s 12 members, which include Tashas, Signature Restaurants, Sakhumzi restaurant of Soweto’s Vilakazi Street, Piza e Vino, Ocean Basket and Doppio Zero, have a combined 512 sit-down restaurants around the country.
Fast food operators have been able to provide delivery services for some time, and under current lockdown level 3, restaurants were able to re-open on 1 June for collections and deliveries. Sit-down service is still forbidden until lockdown level 1.
According to Ntshavheni, the following businesses would be able to reopen under an advanced level 3 lockdown:
- Sit-down restaurants
- Informal restaurants serving taxi ranks and office parks
- Kasi-style South African street food vendors
- Tattoo studios
- Nail Parlours
- Body massage services
- Make-up technicians
Hairdressers and salons
Criminal law advocate Carlo Viljoen filed papers with the High Court in Cape Town in May, ordering government to lift the ban on hairdressers and salons.
Viljoen said he represents the interests of as many as 210,000 professionals. He claims that the country has 90,000 registered hairdressers and approximately 120,000 unregistered hairdressers.
Sorbet Group also cautioned that a continued lockdown could see the entire grooming sector face bankruptcy.
Sorbet, which has 220 salons across South Africa, said that the vast majority of its salons are owner-managed, who are dependent on their store profits as their only source of income.
They employ approximately 3,500 persons, the majority of whom are trained as female beauty therapists, nail technicians, hair stylists and barbers, it said.
Their employees are often the sole breadwinners in their families and support many dependants, which is estimated to be a further 20,000 people from disadvantaged communities.
Ntshavheni told eNCA on Monday that her department has already completed the development protocols for the industries to open, however tattoo parlours were seen as problematic by health officials.
The minister said that a decision is expected by Wednesday (17 June) from the medical advisory council around the extra protocols needed for tattoo parlours.
“The protocols are out, we are ready with them,” the minister said of sit-down restaurants, hair salons, massage and other personal care services. “We are ready to open it up.”