The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) is calling for a direct meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday, amid rumours of a possible lockdown on the cards.

The association says it can’t afford another lockdown as it will financially cripple members and result in massive job losses.

They are calling on President Ramaphosa to meet them so they can outline their plans to facilitate COVID-19 compliance while keeping their doors open.

Rumours of a possible lockdown have been making the rounds, following the detection of a new variant and a rise in COVID-19 infections.

RASA spokesperson Wendy Alberts says they need to keep the economy down.

“The most important thing now is while the numbers are low we need to do everything to keep the economy open. We need to take the pressure of small businesses like restaurants and we need to ensure that we continue not to go into other restrictions and use this time to build the economy and keep people employed and to ensure that as we move through the stage of lockdown we continue to show that we are compliant and do everything we can as an industry to follow through with the protocols as well as the regulations.”

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 technical lead, Maria van Kerkhove, says the B.1.1.529 variant contains many mutations.

She says researchers and scientists are studying the variant to understand its behaviour and those mutations.