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Restaurateurs protest

Local restaurateurs staged a protest against the latest prohibitions of Level 3 lockdown regulations in Hermanus on Wednesday 22 July.

The Hermanus Waterfront was dotted with dining tables and teddy bears in the seats.

Police said on Wednesday they will keep a watchful eye on the proceedings, which restaurants such as Mezz & Co, Fusion, Groves Café, Dutchies and many more took part in. It is estimated more than 1 000 jobs in the restaurant industry in the Overstrand have been cut.

Rudolf van der Berg, owner of Burgundy in Hermanus, says 18 of his employees have lost their jobs, but 63 positions are still filled. He says he understands lockdown was implemented to help the health-care system prepare for the effect the pandemic would likely have, but believes strict lockdown regulations relating to restaurants should be lifted. “The restaurant, however, does not disregard health safety measures, and adheres to them for the safety of staff and customers.”

Van der Berg says one of the main issues is alcohol sales and the curfew. “Since the consumption of alcohol is not allowed on the premises it has had an impact on the business,” he said. “Alcohol sales alone have a 30% impact on the turnover. People usually start dining out at about 19:00 and relax for a few hours, but with the 21:00 curfew it is not possible. This also cuts into operational time.”

Petri Hendriksz, owner of Char’d and Pear Tree, shares the same sentiments and says that sales are down. He asks the question, “who wants to eat a steak with a cup of tea”?

Hendriksz added that people want to relax and try to be as normal as they can be, but the limitations on alcohol make that really difficult. At both his restaurants 20 people, in all, have lost their jobs.

Frieda Lloyd, Cape Whale Coast Tourism Manager, says the lockdown regulations have brought the economy, and the local one in particular, to its knees. “The hospitality industry is in survival mode with no end in sight,” she pointed out. “Restaurants, accommodation, wineries and leisure activities have been hit the hardest. With that all the interlinked services are feeling the brunt.”

Lloyd says the lockdown strictures result in an economic emergency impacting many livelihoods in the region, where travel and tourism are a source of income for many.

Wander Bester, head chef at Pear Tree, says the financial implications have been immense for everyone in the business, right through to the scullery staff.

“The uncertainty of when it will end is probably the biggest fear,” he says. “But South Africans are resilient; we will get through this.”

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