- For the first time in more than three months, restaurants are allowed to open for sit-down meals.
- But because they can't serve alcohol with these meals, many have decided not to open because their business won't be feasible, says the Restaurant Association of SA.
- It now wants the minister of trade and industry to lift the alcohol ban within seven days.
The legal team of the Restaurant Association of SA (RASA) has demanded that minister of trade and industry Ebrahim Patel lift the ban on serving alcohol with sit-down meals.
For the first time since the start of the country's national lockdown three months ago, restaurants could reopen on Monday for sit-down meals.
However, while those with licences may sell alcohol for collection or delivery from their premises - they are not allowed to sell drinks with sit-down meals.
"The restriction on the sale of alcohol with meals is effectively asking (restaurants) to enter this battle with one hand tied behind their backs," RASA said in a letter to Patel, prepared by Mooney Ford Attorneys. "South Africa has a culture of drinking with meals, by not allowing this, the department is effectively assisting in the implosion of this sector."
According to the association, "many" of its members can't reopen because the alcohol ban will render their businesses infeasible. RASA did not respond to a request asking for details about these restaurants.
But in its letter to Patel, the association said restaurants have been among the hardest hit in the current crisis, affecting the livelihoods of almost one million people.
"Despite the losses incurred as a result of the lockdown, the industry has complied with the regulations thus far, however the continual dismissal of its plight has resulted in a sector that has reached its breaking point.
"It is also nonsensical to allow the sale of alcohol as a take-away but not for on-site consumption as this effectively allows for people to get into a vehicle, purchase a takeaway (both food and alcohol) and drive about while consuming both."
RASA now demands that Patel allows restaurants (with a valid liquor licence) to sell alcohol to patrons, within seven days – or to provide reasons why the ban can't be lifted.