Between 12 noon and 2pm on Wednesday 22 July, several local eateries took part in the “Million Seats on the Streets” campaign lead by the Restaurant Association of South Africa. This was to show their extreme frustration regarding the effect on their industry of the stringent lockdown rules set out by the government.
The protest portrayed a visible image of the situation that many businesses in our mostly tourist-based economy are facing. With positive cases of the COVID-19 rising at such a rate that the Garden Route continues to be declared a ‘hot spot’, it is understandable that serious precautions need to be taken by everyone.
But many business owners have voiced concerns that some of the laws in place are both unnecessary and debilitating for their businesses, and if they remain unchanged the result will be closure and the collective loss of thousands of jobs along the Garden Route.
These businesses are calling for some of the lockdown laws to be relaxed, particularly with regards to the hospitality industry, so that they may continue to trade – albeit with strict safety precautions in place for all patrons and staff.
Whilst the ‘Seats on the Streets’ protest went off peacefully in Sedgefield and other smaller centres, in Cape Town it came face to face with the full force of the law. No doubt a sure sign that the powers that be are not considering the request for relaxation just yet.