If restaurants and bars do not buck up and comply with Covid-19 safety protocols, they could have their entire liquor stock confiscated — and even have their liquor licences permanently discontinued.
This is as the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane have expressed concerns over the non-compliance with regulations in the restaurant industry.
Tourism ministry spokesperson Blessing Manale told TimesLIVE that the minister had been inundated with reports of non-compliant restaurants at the weekend.
“The minister has received and continues to receive calls and WhatsApp messages of people complaining about the non-compliance of restaurants, some telling her that certain restaurants are even offering their customers takeaway alcohol,” he said.
Manale said he was aware that the NCCC was concerned about the non-compliance in the industry, but could not comment on behalf of the council.
He said it was very unlikely that the entire industry would be punished because of those who were not adhering.
“We will look at the discontinuation of liquor licences, and even permanent discontinuation, for individual restaurants. We are going to be harsh on enforcement so that we do not paint the whole sector with the same brush.”
Manale warned that the department was looking at confiscating all liquor stock from those found to be flouting regulations.
“We will confiscate stock. First as evidence and generally as a tool of committing the crime. Can you imagine a R5,000 fine plus the confiscation of your stock? The punishment of taking your stock alone will make you pack and go.”
Restaurant Association of SA (Rasa) CEO Wendy Alberts encouraged the reporting of non-compliant restaurants so that the industry as a whole could be spared.
“As unfortunate as it is, we must therefore encourage the reporting of non-compliant restaurants so that we can save the industry as a whole. We urge everyone to follow the regulations and hope that everyone stays safe,” she said.
Alberts said it was unthinkable that due to a few operators not following the rules, the entire industry may suffer again.
“To date we have had reports of restaurants operating past curfew, ignoring the social distancing protocols and not ensuring masks are used and so on These incidents have sprang up all over social media and have garnered the attention of the minister of tourism and the NCCC,” she said. “Due to these infractions, consideration is being held to impose stricter protocols or even reverting to off-site consumption and even to close the restaurant sector.”