South Africans can breathe a sigh of relief now that the Covid-19 Lockdown rules have been relaxed to adjusted Alert Level 1 with a shorter curfew which means we can spend more time at the pub and enjoy more leisurely meals in local restaurants, without having to rush home to avoid being arrested for being out too late.

President Cyril Ramaphosa relaxed the country’s Covid-19 lockdown restrictions by placing the country on adjusted Alert Level 1 on Thursday night. Apart from a slew of other relaxations to the regulations to curb the spread of the virus, the impact on restaurants bars and beaches is quite extensive. The new Alert Level 1 rules kick in from midnight on Thursday 1 October.

According to the new rules the curfew will be shorted by an hour and run from 12am until 4am. Restaurants, bars and gyms will have to close at 11pm to allow their staff time to get home before curfew.

‘The sale of alcohol for off-site and onsite consumption will be permitted according to the normal license provisions of such establishments, however, no alcohol may be sold after 11pm,” Ramaphosa said.

Rules on indoor gatherings have also been relaxed with 750 people now allowed to gather indoors, and up to 2000 people permitted to gather outdoors. Up to 100 people may attend funerals. Where the capacity of a venue does not allow for proper social distancing to be implemented, the venue may only allow people to occupy up to 50% of its capacity.

Restaurant and tavern owners have been pleading with the government since the start of the strict lockdown curfew and other rules regarding the sale of alcohol, to loosen up a little. The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) has reported the closure of thousands of restaurants across the country which were simply not able to keep their doors open during the harsher lockdown levels. The earlier bans on the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption meant that taverns could not open for regular trade to their customers and restaurants experienced a massive downturn in dining patrons. Even when alcohol sales were again allowed, the longer curfews negatively impacted on trading hours at bars and restaurants as establishments had to close an hour earlier to give employees enough time to get home.

RASA CEO Wendy Alberts also earlier pleaded with the government to take note of the impact on the restaurant industry and staged peaceful protests to highlight its plight.

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