Johannesburg, 12th AUGUST 2020: The Covid-19 pandemic has had devastating consequences on many industries across the country, but its toll on the hospitality sector has been particularly severe, seeing 30% of restaurants closing over the past few months. Whether you live in the city, or a smaller town, it’s almost a certainty that one of your favourite local eateries will have been closed for months by now, its once vibey atmosphere replaced with a forlorn absence of patrons tucking into a familiar menu special.
“We realised quite early into the lockdown that we would need to pool resources in order to offer meaningful assistance to struggling restaurateurs. To stimulate the sector and save jobs and entrepreneurs, we need to enable the restaurants and takeaway outlets to get back onto their feet,” says Janine van Rooyen from Unilever Food Solutions, speaking on behalf of the consortium.
A survey by the consortium among its members found that a week after restaurants reopened, 76% of them were massively down for the year, and more than half (55%) of respondents had cut their staff complement by more than 50%. The human stories behind these statistics are sad and even tragic: the waiter who served you during your birthday dinner with no job to go to, the independent restaurant manager reeling from bills she can no longer pay.
“Behind every restaurant meal is a story of the people who made it, from the farms to the kitchens and all the supply links in-between. In fact, on average 28 people may have directly benefited from your last takeout or dine-in. These are the faces behind this usually vibrant industry, the individuals whose livelihoods are dependent on it,” says van Rooyen.
Naturally during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are concerned about contracting the virus. The consortium is very cognisant of these concerns and is placing emphasis on food safety and hygiene is of primary importance at all times. Behind the scenes of the #OneMealManyThanks campaign, the consortium is actively communicating safety protocols to both restaurants and patrons on an ongoing basis. An app, which is available at no cost to the user, has been developed communicating and simplifying the management of the COVID protocols for restaurants, whilst providing clear guidance to keep patrons as safe as possible in accordance with the National Department of Health, The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and World Health Organisations (WHO) guidelines.
“Most restaurants have been implementing safety measures, complying with social distancing protocols, providing hand sanitiser and wiping down tables and card machines with every new customer,” says Lindy Arnold from Bidfood. Thorough safety directions are being constantly reinforced in restaurants and among staff, including recommendations that temperature checks for each patron be checked, recording their details for possible track and trace, maintaining social distance while tending tables and disinfecting all surfaces regularly. In many restaurants, waitering staff are not only wearing masks, but face shields too.
“Restaurant managers are acutely aware that without these measures being strictly enforced, they may lose the opportunity to regain the confidence of their patrons, and therefore the footfall that we are all hoping to get back to normal,” says Arnold.
“Everyone is hoping the industry will get back on its feet, and every meal you order, whether dining in, delivered to your door, or kerbside collection, will help it to do that,” she concludes. Meanwhile, South Africans everywhere are keenly looking forward to the day when restaurants re-open fully, and more great memories can be made.
Stay safe on your next restaurant outing – tips from the consortium:
- Have your temperature taken and sanitize your hands on entering.
- Wear a mask at all times except while eating or drinking.
- Allow the outlet to record your name and mobile number. It will make it easier for them to contact you should it be necessary.
- Maintain social distancing of at least 1.5m.
- Tables should be spaced 1.5m apart. Families of four or more can join tables.
- Try to use non-touch menus and contactless payment methods. If you touch a card machine, sanitise your hands before and after.
- Tables should have limited items. If you touch any condiments, sanitise your hands before and after.
- When you accept deliveries, wipe down takeaway containers.
Visit www.onemealmanythanks.co.za for more information.