#Covid19 ‘concerns about restaurants, bars unwarranted’

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The restaurant industry says it’s gotten wind of a scientific report claiming that the eateries and bars will likely be big contributors to any Covid-19 infections during the festive season.

This comes as the government ramps up its efforts to keep infections under control during December and January.

Wendy Alberts, CEO of the Restaurant Association of South Africa, says there are concerns that restaurants, bars and eateries will be breeding grounds for the virus. But she believes the concerns are unwarranted.

“There is apparent scientific evidence to show that it is a high-risk situation for Covid in the holiday season.

“We’ve asked for the scientific evidence so we can address the critical issues with that and find solutions with immediate effect so we can contribute to the curb of Covid during these holidays that are approaching us.”

Alberts adds the industry is prepared for an influx of patrons.

“We have got strict protocols; we exercise those on a daily basis. We put the health of our people at the highest priority and we will continue to do this. We are not here to deem irresponsibility or to remove ourselves taking responsibility of ensuring people have a good experience within our establishments.

“We are here to ensure compliance. Our restaurants have been vehemently pitting these protocols and making sure the health of their customers and staff are their highest priority.

She warns against the industry taking the blame for all alcohol-related issues arising during the festive period.

“We are not going to be blamed for alcohol problems and it is not fair to expect us as an industry to take responsibility of this,” Alberts says.

“What we have gathered from input from our associated restaurants is that any further restrictions are going to greatly harm the industry and it’s unfortunate that it’s our restaurant industry that bears the brunt of any bad measures that stems from bad behaviour.”

Under level 1, on-site consumption of alcohol at restaurants is allowed, with strict adherence to the midnight curfew.

But in hotspot areas such as the Nelson Mandela Bay, the government has restricted the sale of alcohol from Monday to Thursday. The curfew is 10pm.

OFM News