Restaurant owners remain concerned over non-compliance under Level 2 lockdown

SABC News Restaurant R - Restaurant owners remain concerned over non-compliance under Level 2 lockdown

Restaurant owners operating under lockdown Level 2 are concerned that businesses could be shut down, due to non-compliance with lockdown regulations by some bar and restaurant owners.

Members of the public, worried about the lack of safety measures, have lodged complaints with the Tourism Department.

Earlier this week, Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane sent warning letters to errant restaurant owners to follow guidelines or face losing their trading licences.

The pleasure of dining out again and the vibe at a popular street in Melville, Johannesburg is back.

“Seeing all the people together shows were are close to being COVID-19 free,” one person at the popular street said.

Alcohol and tobacco ban lifted as the country moves to lockdown Level 2: 

Safety precautions

Ensuring the safety of staff and patrons is critical. Many restaurants like the Lonely Hearts club are not taking any chances. Manager Ricky Mutungana says staff members are screened when they get to work.

“We screen the staff members when they get in to work. And if any have any flu symptoms, they can’t come to work. We have laminated the menu’s and we sanitize it after every client, the cutlery and the condiments, social distancing with the tables.”

Venice bar owner Natasha Dunn is also conforming. “We have to buy the sanitisers to clean the surfaces, kitchens and the handles. Yes, it’s been an adjustment, but it’s doable and it will eventually be a lifestyle,” says Dunn.

However, after concerns were raised by the public, compliant owners are worried about their counterparts disregarding COVID-19 rules.

“I think my biggest concern would be, yes there are precautions set out for them, but I guess you never really know if they are being followed,” says one owner.

“It feels a bit weird. It’s been a long time in lockdown, but now that we are in Level 2, I feel it’s a bit okay. It’s a good thing to do, but obviously all precautions must be taken,” another owner says.

Under level 2, temperature readings, masks and social distancing are still the standards.

“I feel safe when there is hand sanitiser when I walk in. When you fill in your details like everyone is doing; these are things I’m looking for,” one customer says.

Warning against non-compliance

Kubayi-Ngubabe has warned that errant business owners could lose their trading licences.  “Practices such as restaurants operating during curfew, offering to take away alcohol and non-adherence to mask-wearing as required. This risks the business licences and the safety of their clients. The minister has appealed again for their co-operation,” said the department of Tourism’s Hlengiwe Nhlabathi-Mokota.

This has been echoed by a stern warning from police that those guilty of non-compliance would face the full might of the law.

It’s unclear how many restaurants have been shut down under Level 2 as all lockdown transgressions are classified under one category; disregarding the Disaster Management Act.

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