The restaurant and catering industry is bleeding during the lockdown period that has been put in place to fight the spread of COVID-19.

People are anxious about the survival of their businesses because of the loss of income. The easing of lockdown has brought a glimmer of hope to some business owners while others feel left out.

In the video below, the government outlines Level 4 lockdown regulations for business:

Business people are unsure if there is a business to go back to when lockdown restrictions are eased. They wonder if it is even worth operating when they would have fewer customers than normal, but have to foot additional costs like buying masks and sanitisers for staff.

Small business owner Snqobile Khumalo of The White Plate in Umlazi, south of Durban, says staff members have asked her to help them financially while the business is not making any money.

“Basically we sell food, we cater and we host parties and events. We provide takeaways and we have a sit-in eatery. It has been hectic. It has affected everyone, not just me, but my employees as well as my family because we have chefs and waitresses. My business is a small business that I’ve recently opened. It is the worst situation because every other second day, I get a call from my workers asking for an advance. It’s a difficult situation because they have to provide for their families as well and so do I and it has been hectic and difficult.”

Khumalo says an easing of the lockdown will be of no benefit to her business.

“My business will be left out because we are still trying to get other restaurants around my area so we use one transportation for delivery since Mr.D does not work in Umlazi, this delivery thing is not working for me.”

Executive for Strategy and Public Affairs at the Small Business Institute John Dludlu speaks about the impact COVID-19 will have on small businesses:

Big business owners also bearing the brunt

The lockdown is felt even those who have been in business for longer. Bravo Foods Managing Director Sean Webber says the uncertainty raises the stress levels of both management and staff.

He says government is not sending a clear message as to what is allowed or not allowed.

Webber also raised concerns about health and hygiene issues.

“There are more costs. There are hygiene costs, costs for masks, costs to staffing and possibly having to bring other teams. That is also coupled together with the fact their customers are reduced which means less income. You have the whole viability of the business in question and this is very stressful for business owners. It becomes very stressful for staff. It becomes very stressful for everybody involved,” says Webber.

Increase in anxiety

Psychologist Jason Ross says there is an increase in people seeking help due to anxiety.

Ross says people are anxious about whether they will have an income come end of lockdown and are worried about how they will manage to keep their businesses afloat.

During level four of the lockdown, government allows restaurants to reopen if they deliver food to their customers.

The move has been heavily criticised by some business owners, saying it will be difficult to operate under this restriction.

See the restrictions in the tweet below: