Crushing effects of lockdown clear to see

Eating out at a local restaurant last Friday night, it was pitiful seeing our table was the only one occupied in the entire restaurant, and there were only three of us.

It was evidence of how the prohibition on alcohol sales has hurt business, as most customers like to have a drink or two with their meal, and restaurants are dependent on these sales.

Granted, some people are probably refraining from eating out because they afraid of catching Covid-19 – even with all the protocols of sanitising and taking temperatures – but restaurants are also losing out on customers who simply want a beer, a glass of wine or some other tipple.

The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit by the lockdown, as stage 5 lasted longer for them, and when they were permitted to resume trade, initially it was only to deliver meals.

When they finally could open for sit-down meals, they still couldn’t serve booze.

Obviously this has affected liquor traders generally, aside from the few weeks they were permitted to open before the renewed ban.

Considering how this loss of business has resulted in pay cuts and layoffs, and some establishments closing for good, the nationwide protests by restauranteurs and other hospitality industry members last week were very understandable.

Some of the government’s lockdown restrictions make no sense, and have caused more harm than good. Many commentators have said the effects of the lockdown are in fact worse than the virus, as people will be driven into poverty and hunger.

In our area the protest was well-supported by local restaurant owners and staff, and some well-wishing members of the public. They started out at West Beach and drove in a convoy past most restaurants around town, where staff waited outside with placards. At some venues they stopped for a few minutes to stand together in solidarity.

The protest was peaceful and went without incident.

By now many readers may have seen cellphone footage taken of a similar protest in Cape Town, also peaceful on the part of the protestors, who simply walked down the streets and sidewalks holding placards and calling on government to ease restrictions.

What was disturbing was the heavy-handed response by SAPS, who acted as though they were responding to a riot, using water cannons and stun grenades to disperse the protestors. It was a shocking display of state oppression and should be condemned.

We hope the government pays attention to the pleas of the people to ease and lift these lockdown restrictions before the economy and people’s livelihoods are further crushed.

– Jon Houzet

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