Restaurants across South Africa are protesting the lockdown restrictions and continued ban on alcohol sales, which they say are killing the industry.
The initial “Million seats on the streets” protest involved blocking roads with tables and chairs, but this was blocked by the SA Police Service (SAPS).
Restaurants decided to continue with the protest, but instead of disrupting traffic restaurants engaged in a “peaceful protest”.
Restaurant Association of South Africa CEO Wendy Alberts said they are raising awareness about the plight of restaurants amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main issue which restaurants are fighting for is to allow all establishments with a valid liquor license to sell and distribute alcohol.
Alberts said the current restrictions on liquor sales make it impossible for restaurants to make ends meet.
In an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Alberts said at least 70% of restaurants have had to retrench employees to save costs.
She added that 40% of restaurants have not received any form of government loan or support during the lockdown.
Apart from banning alcohol sales, restaurants are also hamstrung by the 21:00 curfew and regulations which take the joy out of visiting a restaurant.
She added that restaurants are already struggling because people do not have money, and this together with the restrictions is killing the restaurant industry.
Protest action by restaurants
Numerous restaurants joined the #JobsSaveLives protest action by placing empty seats on pavements and other areas.
One stakeholder said chefs, waiters, winery workers, hoteliers, and tourism operators lined the Stellenbosch streets supporting the #JobsSaveLives protests.
“We are in Long Street where restaurant owners have put out tables and chairs. In solidarity of #JobsSaveLives,” said another.
“The government must find a way to develop regulations to ensure that they can operate while not spreading the virus,” A Twitter commentator said.
“By default, restaurant practice social distancing and good hygiene. Surely something can be done.”
The photos and videos below show the #JobsSaveLives protest action by restaurants, including a table with 1,000 empty seats in Wellington.
200m long empty table with 1,000 seats in Wellington
200m long empty table with a 1000seats in Wellington, #CapeTown to raise awareness of the job lost within the tourism industry due to the lockdown @TimesLIVE @CapeTownTourism @Tourism_gov_za #JobsSaveLives pic.twitter.com/XxKAlNNag0
— Esa Alexander (@ezaap) July 22, 2020
Chefs, waiters, winery workers, hoteliers, and tourism operators line the Stellenbosch streets
Countless chefs, waiters, winery workers, hoteliers & tourism operators line the #Stellenbosch streets supporting #JobsSaveLives protesting irrational government laws banning the tourism and wine industry.
Are you listening @CyrilRamaphosa ?? pic.twitter.com/OMiI2j3Yyv
— FarmerMike™ 👨🌾 (@mikeratcliffe) July 22, 2020
Staff members and people are holding signs outside Rockets in Parkhurst
Staff members and people in support of the #ResturantProtest are holding signs outside Rockets in Parkhurst. Minister of Tourism is expected to accept a memorandum from RASA, Tavener’s Association and the Independent Liquors Association #JobsSaveLives @GroundUp_News pic.twitter.com/GW70WEj4ju
— Zoë Postman (@ZoePostman) July 22, 2020
Huguenot Street in Franschhoek closed down by peaceful march.
— Matthew Blewett (@blewett) July 22, 2020