'This is much better' - Extra hour for restaurants, taverns under level 2

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
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From Monday, restaurants, bars and gyms can close an hour later – at 22:00, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa's move to lockdown level 2.

The hours of curfew will now start at 23:00 (from 22:00) and end at 04:00.

Restaurants, bars and fitness centres have to close an hour earlier, to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew.

"This is much better – especially for taverns and pubs. They need the extra hour," Grace Harding, CEO of Ocean Basket and spokesperson for The Restaurant Collective, told Fin24.

But while Lucky Ntimane, convener of the National Liquor Traders (which represents township-based taverns, shebeen permit holders and bottle stores), also welcomed the move, he wanted more.

"We feel that given the economic conditions of the country the president might have missed a perfect opportunity to move the country back to Level 1 and set us on a much quicker way to economic recovery."

While seven million South Africans are now fully vaccinated, Harding says that restaurants have not seen much positive impact. She says the economy remained depressed. "People have been retrenched and (there is) lots of financial harm."

But both Harding and Ntimane say vaccinations will remain key to move out of lockdown.

"The experts say a fourth wave is almost inevitable and this means the pace of vaccinations has to increase," says Ntimane. "We cannot afford another round of harsh restrictions and bans on alcohol. We call on everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible and help put this pandemic behind us."

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