Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has said that South Africa is ready to relax state of disaster regulations as part of an “advanced level 3” lockdown.
Speaking in an interview with eNCA, Ntshavheni said that the decision to move to this “advanced” lockdown level could be taken as soon as the department receives the go-ahead from the medical advisory committee.
“When the President announced the movement to level 3, he also announced what he called the ‘advanced level 3’, which will include sit-down restaurants and also opening up of personal care services,” Ntshavheni said.
“We have started developing the protocols.”
Ntshavheni said that during her department’s consultations with the Department of Health, one of the more challenging debates centred around whether tattooing should be allowed under the advanced level 3 regulations or not.
These advanced level 3 lockdown regulations could see the re-opening of sit-down restaurants and businesses such as hairdressers and nail salons.
Ntshavheni said the relevant health and safety protocols required to enable this relaxation of regulations have been developed, and the department is ready to implement these advanced level 3 regulations as soon as it receives approval from the medical advisory committee.
This follows after the government recently confirmed it was not considering reinstituting the ban on alcohol which was active under COVID-19 alert level 4.
This is despite a number of premiers and local government figures calling for the alcohol ban to be revisited due to its adverse impact on the health system.
“The decision of cabinet stands,” Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said.
“It is not a thing up for reviewal; we have not discussed the reviewal of those measures. Not at all.”
Restaurants ready to open
South African restaurants have said they are ready to open as soon as regulations are relaxed.
The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) estimated that restaurants employ around 800,000 people in South Africa, and lobby group the Restaurant Collective has recently stated the industry is ready and desperate to open.
Fast-food operators have been able to provide delivery services for some time, and under current lockdown level 3, restaurants were able to reopen on 1 June for collections and deliveries.
Under the state of disaster regulations, sit-down service is still forbidden until lockdown level 1.
However, according to Grace Harding, chief executive officer of Ocean Basket, who heads up the Restaurant Collective, this easing of lockdown restrictions does not serve the restaurant industry.
She stressed that sit-down restaurants have a vastly different operating model to takeaways, with deliveries representing a mere 10% of total sales under normal circumstances.
Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni’s interview with eNCA is below.