Monday marks the first day that restaurants will be allowed to open their doors for sit-in services, almost 100 days after South Africa entered a hard lockdown. However, the industry is still operating under the terms of an alcohol ban – and it’s set to face a legal challenge brought by the Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa).
Can restaurants serve alcohol?
Wendy Alberts is the CEO of the group. She spoke with CapeTalk earlier on Monday to explain where Rasa finds itself at this pivotal moment. Although the reopening of restaurants is joyous news for business owners, the restrictions on alcohol have put a dampener on things: No sit-in patrons can order a beer, a glass of wine, or any other form of liquor with their food.
She stated that Rasa have set their lawyers on Ebrahim Patel, the trade minister, to offer the government an ultimatum: Alberts and her colleagues have told the ministry they have seven days to lift the ongoing alcohol ban for dining venues. For many establishments, their futures depend on it.
Rasa give government seven days to respond
Should the government fail to respond to the legal request, they could find themselves mired in more litigation. Cabinet – including President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – have already been taken to court over the controversial cigarette ban. Alberts has slammed the prohibition of alcohol sales in all restaurants as “ridiculous”:
“We have certainly written a very strong lawyer’s letter to Minister Patel (DTI) and we have given them seven days for them to answer us on this non-equivocal reality that there are no restaurants who are allowed to sell alcohol. We find this completely ridiculous that they had not allowed it.”
“Whilst we respect that the Minister of Tourism does not have the mandate to do this, we have been pushed back to the DTI so we have given then seven days to lift the alcohol ban. Our restaurants need to be able to have alcohol with their meals… To save the industry we need the alcohol ban to be lifted in restaurants.”