‘Restaurants can’t survive another week’: CEO stages sit-in at Union Buildings

Restaurants Association of SA CEO Wendy Alberts pickets at the Union Buildings in Pretoria in a desperate attempt to have lockdown restrictions eased.
Restaurants Association of SA CEO Wendy Alberts pickets at the Union Buildings in Pretoria in a desperate attempt to have lockdown restrictions eased.
Image: Supplied.

It is imminent that the industry is facing complete and utter destruction, says Wendy Alberts, CEO of the Restaurants Association of SA (Rasa), on day three of a sit-in at the Union Buildings.

Alberts, with 11,000 restaurants behind her, is calling for the revised lockdown level 3  curfew and ban on alcohol sales to be lifted.

Wearing a pink dress and a mask, Alberts on Wednesday walked up and down in front of an entrance to the seat of government with a placard stating “President Ramaphosa, please save our restaurants” and “Jobs save lives”.

“This will be my office until the president talks to me and the rest of our constituency and stakeholders,” she said.

Alberts said she arrived on Monday to hand a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“In that letter we called for an inter-ministerial meeting to have discussions. We felt consultations were quite thin with government and that communication was certainly closed off since the last announcement on December 28,” she said.

After the hit the industry took during the festive season, Alberts said Rasa believes many in the industry will not survive another week.

“We have research that shows our industry cannot survive for another week and that is why we are sitting here as a last resort to get government to hear us,” she said.

“We are not prepared to leave until we either have that inter-ministerial meeting or they take note of the contents of the letter and apply what we requested in terms of lifting the curfew and the liquor restrictions.

“If we do not get the curfew lifted, 12% of restaurants will close within a day, 38% will close within one week, 48% will close within a month and only 6% will be be able to survive past the month. These numbers are quite dramatic. If the liquor ban is not lifted, we are looking at the same figures.”

She cited the human cost of the tight restrictions on restaurants.

“Our people are begging to come to work. They are sitting at home. They are starving. They have been laid off. Restaurants have closed their doors.”

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