Thousands of restaurant workers are starving as they haven’t earned any money during the lockdown, said Wendy Alberts Head of the Restaurant Association of SA ( RASA).
She received this heart-breaking message from a waiter, “I am dying of hunger. I don’t even have money for salt. If you know of any food organisations, please add me. My kids are crying day and night.”
She has been overwhelmed with desperate messages from restaurants owners who are unable to provide for their hungry staff. Even with the latest phased in structure, restaurants remain closed. The Covid-19 lockdown is crippling restaurants with no support from the government, the Unemployment Fund ( UIF), or landlords.
“We are the life of the streets, We are the music in the neighbourhood, we can’t even feed our people.”
Restaurants employ over 800 000 people and is a large employer of unskilled workers in South Africa. The restaurant industry acts as a starting point to assist unskilled workers to launch into new careers later on.
RASA has surveyed thousands of restaurants about their current financial position. The survey indicated that restaurants were facing closure.
Only 3% of the restaurants who took part in the survey received financial relief from banks in the form of loans, but none has received assistance from the UIF or rental discounts from landlords.
Some restaurants do not have working capital to reopen after the lockdown is over, with many of them drowning in debt and probably facing liquidation.
“It’s (the venue) of your first date, your birthday party and your anniversary. It’s also a meeting place for the signing of a deal. Restaurants are such a major component of life. Imagine suburbs like Parkhurst ( JHB), tourist hotspots such as Camps Bay and Umhlanga without restaurants?”
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