'All of this is going to collapse': Hospitality industry fears coronavirus crackdown

Businesses in the hospitality industry are already feeling the devastating impact of government's new measures for the hospitality industry, aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus, just a day after they came into effect.

It was announced on Wednesday that all establishments - including bars, clubs, shebeens and restaurants - that sell liquor must close at 18:00 on weekdays and Saturdays, and at 13:00 on Sundays and public holidays. The establishments may only open at 09:00 the next morning.

But on Thursday, police minister Bheki Cele said that restaurants will be permitted to remain open after 18:00 – if they don't sell alcohol and there are a maximum of 50 people on the premises.

All on-consumption premises selling liquor, including taverns, restaurants and clubs, are not allowed to have more than 50 people at the same time, or must be closed with immediate effect. These places must also all adhere to strict hygienic conditions. Hotels that sell liquor must also implement measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.

'No more like before'

Queen Seete, owner of Veli's Shebeen, Pub and Bar on the East Rand, told Fin24 on Thursday that the new regulations will hurt her business. 

"The nighttime is when alcohol gets bought the most and a good opportunity for people to socialise and leave late. Our business is going to suffer but I guess our lives come before business."

'I don't know a business that can survive'

The founder of Beerhouse in Cape Town, Randolf Jorberg, told Fin24 that, in light of these regulations, business will be impacted "significantly" and many could lose their jobs.

"I don't know a single business that can survive more than a few weeks under these circumstances. We will see massive unemployment and job losses in a couple of weeks. There is bigger interest at stake, but the question is, was that the only possible way to solve it?" he asked.

"The reality is that, just like our employees work payday to payday, we (depend on) cashflow. I don't know a single operator who has cash reserves which allow them to continue to pay salaries.

"All of this is going to collapse. I don't see how businesses will be able to survive in these times," Jorberg said.

The article has been updated following Cele's comments.

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