Dear CEO Members
In March 2020, President of the Republic of South African, Cyril Ramaphosa informed all the citizens about placing the country under strict lockdown due to a global outbreak of coronavirus known as COVID 19. The President further illustrated how the lockdown would be implemented and phased out, depending on the number of new infections and cases.
The country is currently under level 4 of the lockdown, and numerous news outlets have been reporting that the country will move to level 3 on the 01st of June 2020. Please be advised that even under level 3, the restaurant sector is only allowed to offer online services in order to continue practising social distancing. Furthermore, there have been complaints from some restaurant owners who did not offer delivery and online services prior to the lockdown, in that restaurants were complaining at the 30% commission by food delivery services, stating that It is simply too pricey for some restaurants.
Prior to the implementation of Level 4, Wendy Alberts, CEO of the Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA), previously said that “while it may be stressful for restaurants, it is an opportunity for innovation in the industry. “The evolution of our industry has been exponential, and restaurants are looking to supplement (they own delivery service) as a solution to the problem”.
On the 19th of May 2020, Alec Hogg who is a writer and broadcaster and the Publisher of Biznews interviewed the Chief Executive of Ocean Basket and spokesperson for the Restaurant Collective, Grace Harding about South Africa’s strict lockdown and the severe impact it has upon the country’s restaurant industry. Grace Harding indicated that the restaurant industry is getting worse and catastrophic by the day, especially the employees from the small restaurants relying on the Temporary Relief Scheme and the small restaurants who cannot afford the delivery services.
Grave Harding further stated that when most restaurants go back to operations, one of the other issues will be that most of the customers have been retrenched. Therefore some of the restaurants will not be making the same money they used to make prior to COVID 19.
Following that, she mentioned that a Consolidated COVID 19 safe protocol, especially for sit-in restaurants, have been put together with the assistance of two associations and other groups, she further indicated that they are doing everything they can to make sure that the restaurant staff and customers are safe. Grace Harding stated that mass zoom training for restaurant managers is part of the COVID 19 safe protocol manual which will be presented to the Government, as approximately over 7000 (seven thousand) restaurant are directly and indirectly affected by the lockdown.
Please note that she mentioned that concerns were raised by some of the owners from the restaurant industry with regards to the inconsistency of the payment of TERS (Temporary Relief scheme), in that some of the employers have received payments while other employers are still waiting for the payments in order to pay their staff.
The other concerns that Grave Harding raised was the Unemployment Insurance Fund running out of funds for payment of the TERS. She further stated that if the Government wait until level 1 to allow the Restaurant Industry to operate, unfortunately, most of the small restaurants will not be back for business. Therefore, it is utmost important that the discussion with the Government be held as a matter of urgency regarding the COVID 19 safe protocol in order to save jobs.
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CEO Collective Bargaining Team