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Govt offers glimmer of hope to embattled restaurant sector

All restaurants, including shisanyamas, have been forced to close their doors since the lockdown began last month, putting thousands of jobs and livelihoods at risk.

Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni at an inter-ministerial briefing on 24 March 2020 detailing how government will respond ahead of and during the 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The government said that it had heard the pleas of the restaurant sector as it buckled under the extended lockdown but a proper relief plan had yet to emerge.

All restaurants, including shisanyamas, have been forced to close their doors since the lockdown began last month, putting thousands of jobs and livelihoods at risk.

While the easing of lockdown restrictions to Level 4 is expected to allow for food to be delivered, restaurants are likely only to be allowed to fully open for business when Level 1 is reached, a process that could take several months.

A briefing by economic cluster ministers on Tuesday offered a glimmer of hope for the embattled restaurant sector.

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said that the sector was supported through the Tourism Resilience Fund, while shisanyamas in the townships also qualified for relief extended to small, medium and micro-enterprises. The industry said that this was not enough but Kubayi-Ngubane said that the government was listening.

"There’s been a call to say since proposals for going forward are not going to be sufficient to support this sector that employs a number of people, others have been calling for more relief funds to come, especially for restaurants. We have listened to that, we will process that in government and also engage with National Treasury. If we do have positive news we will come back and address the nation."

Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni: "In terms of the restaurants when the announcement has been made in terms of the phased approach of what’s happening with restaurants, together with the Minister of Tourism, we’re going to announce the support mechanisms for restaurants, including shisanyamas and all others who cook in the townships and rural areas."

WATCH: COVID-19 Situation Desk - 28 April 2020 PM

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.