Government looks at restaurants, alcohol and beaches to fight Covid-19 surge over December

South Africa’s restaurant industry is currently in talks with the government about the on-site sale of alcohol over the December holiday period.

The Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa) said it has been asked to survey the position of each restaurant regarding on-site alcohol sales, and outline the measures they will put in place to increase the level of compliance to Covid-19 prevention protocols in establishments.

This comes after concerns were raised in a ‘scientific document’ presented to government that on-site consumption will be a high risk to Covid-19 prevention methods through the festive season.

Rasa’s Wendy Alberts said that the association has requested to see the evidence presented in the document, and noted that government should not confuse societal problems with Covid-19, and should avoid putting the responsibility of alcohol abuse on the restaurant industry.

“I will continue to demand the scientific evidence so we can properly address where exactly the apparent risk sits. We have approved protocols in place and now we have been called without notice to urgently supply a solution with no sight of what the exact risk is. Government has had months to talk to us and now, on-demand, want a solution,” she said.

Meanwhile, the KZN government is also considering closing beaches during the festive season to combat the spread of rising Covid-19 infections in the province.

The provincial MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Bheki Ntuli said that he was in discussions with the KZN MEC for Health Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu about the possibility of closing provincial beaches during the busy festive period.

Ntuli was speaking during a high-level meeting with all heads of law enforcement agencies in the province at the Pietermaritzburg Correctional Services Centre. Tourism stakeholders warned that if the decision to close KZN beaches during the peak holiday period was approved, it would be devastating for the tourism industry and would lead to massive job losses.

The province announced last week that all major events during the festive season would be prohibited as part of plans to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said that national government is also considering additional restrictions for the Garden Route District in the Western Cape as a means of curbing the impact of a second coronavirus wave in the area.

Mkhize will meet with health and government officials in the area this week after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the area is a national coronavirus hotspot.

In a press briefing, Mkhize said that some of the restrictions which are being considered for the district including limitations on: Public halls, Swimming pools, Large activities in parks, Gatherings on beaches.

Mkhize said that these types of gatherings are a ‘recipe’ for super-spreader events. He said that the pandemic would not be ended through regulations and in hospitals, but instead by actions taken in the community.

The minister did not specify whether further local restrictions – such as those seen in Nelson Mandela Bay – are also being considered.

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