The Restaurants Association of South Africa (RASA) says Wednesday’s planned nationwide protest will go ahead as scheduled, but that their members will operate within the law.

It says in spite of early communication with police, many of their members were not granted permission to embark on the demonstration.

Initially, participating restaurants were planning to line the street outside their premises with dining chairs and tables.

They are calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to sit with them and engage in ways to open the industry that has been hard hit by lockdown regulations.

Association’s CEO, Wendy Alberts says, “Work with us. You know, we are certainly not here to cause chaos. You know, we said it will be a peaceful protest. We’ve outlined that we have a memorandum to hand over to the president. We would like the president to meet us at one of the millions of empty seats that are available around the country. We want to highlight how many jobs have been lost.”

Alberts says they will continue with the protest “legally.”

“We don’t want anybody to be arrested or any of our members or staff to get hurt. We need to respect what the SAPS has said. We need to respect that if there is any demonstration that needs to take place, we can do it on the pavement, ensure staff is standing by themselves and on the pavement and that they must stress that they are not part of any gathering.”

 Night curfew 

Last week, the association said that almost 400 000 jobs may be lost in the sector in the coming weeks after the government announced a night curfew and another ban on the sale of alcohol.

Alberts said 69 restaurants have permanently closed their doors, while hundreds more say it is not financially viable for them to remain open with the curfew and alcohol ban in place.

“The news on Sunday night came to us as a complete surprise, a complete blow from the dark. It was a final nail in the coffin for many restaurants. They simply cannot keep their businesses open and it makes no financial sense to one … not being able to serve alcohol and have a restriction on our dining time.”

President Ramaphosa said the latest suspension of the sale and distribution of alcohol seeks to reduce the flow of trauma patients to hospitals during the COVID-19 peak: