‘Dear mister president, please take up a seat at any of our empty tables’ invites restaurant industry

THE biggest-ever united protest in the history of South Africa’s restaurant industry is set to take place today, when Garden Route eateries will join hundreds of colleagues countrywide - including coffee shops and takeaway establishments - in the ‘1-Million seats on the streets’ protest against Covid-19 restrictions to trade.
The Restaurant Association of SA (Rasa), which initiated the campaign, notified lieutenant general Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi of the SAPS of the planned protest in a letter via its lawyers on July 15.
Tables and chairs will be used to block roads outside various restaurants between 12 noon and 2pm as part of the peaceful protest to highlight the massive impact of C-19 lockdown regulations on the industry.
The sector has pretty much been closed from the start of the hard lockdown in late March up to the end of May. Since June it has been operating at limited capacity, with lockdown restrictions not allowing for on-site consumption of alcohol.
According to Rasa, up to 70% of jobs may have already been lost in the industry, totalling some 800,000 people.
“Due to the continual disregard for the restaurant industry, Rasa members and various establishments will be embarking on a nationwide peaceful demonstration,” said attorney Ashton Naidoo in the letter to Mkhwanazi.
“Each owner will move tables and chairs from their empty restaurants into the street in front of their establishment in protest of the current regulations and to highlight the plight of the industry.”
He added all had been advised that such groups “must not exceed 15 people, and social distancing protocols will be observed”.
Eateries from George to Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay had confirmed on social media that they would participate in today’s 1-Million Seats’ protest.
* Staff of various Plett restaurants have announced that they would get together on the corner of Odlands and Hopwood streets (i.e. the Spur corner entrance to Central Beach parking lot) around 11:30 today to add their voices to those colleagues in the trade who have been suffering without shifts countrywide.