Restaurant Owners Cry Foul Over Mnangagwa Lockdown Sanctions

A RESTAURANT owners’ group is dismayed by a government decision Monday to maintain the ban on customer sit-ins under new Covid-19 measures.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa Monday announced the new measures which include scrapping of exemption letters for people to travel, reduction of curfew hours and the extension of business hours.

The informal sector was also allowed to open but restaurants were only allowed to open for takeaways.

Restaurant Operators Association of Zimbabwe (RAOZ) president Bongai Zamchiya said businesses under the umbrella faced difficulties following the prolonged lockdown period.

“We had hoped for re-opening of restaurants in the March 1 update announcement, with permission for half-capacity service for sit-down dinners, but this has not happened,” he said.

ROAZ has carried out research into the effects of lockdown and a position paper has been tabled with the Tourism and Hospitality ministry and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, outlining the severity of the situation.

“We are fully supportive of the national effort to contain and eliminate Covid-19, but the current dispensation for the restaurant trade is no longer tenable and we face a huge level of business closures and job losses, not only in the restaurant trade but among the many suppliers to the trade,” said Zamchiya.

He said the travel and tourism sector held a meeting with the Hospitality Minister last week hoping he will forward the concerns but to no avail.

“We are active in economic growth and contribute a significant amount to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s revenue, which is then used to promote domestic and international tourism but properly-run restaurants with high level of hygiene and operational standards were ignore,” he said.

He implored authorities to consider that restaurants around the country varied and for many, this was the only source of income.

Zamchiya said no relief had been given to restaurants, all of which were paying full licence fees, despite being closed or only partially open for takeaways.

“In fact, most restaurants are faced with full costs related to rentals, wages and other inputs, but we have no income, while those that are able to do takeaways report income of between eight and 20 percent of pre-lockdown levels,” he said. – Newzim