At long last the Department of Tourism has detailed what protocols restaurants, casinos, theaters and conference venues need to follow in order to operate during level three lockdown.

The regulations promulgated by Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane are meant to be read with the regulations issued in respect of hygienic workplace conditions. This includes the COVID-19 Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Workplaces Directions issued in April.

As part of these regulations restaurants, fast food outlets and coffee shops must keep a daily record of the following:

  • Full names
  • Identity/Passport Number
  • Nationality
  • Nature of position of employees
  • Residential address
  • Cellphone numbers of employees and delivery persons (including third party delivery persons)

The above pertains exclusively to employees, but should you request a delivery the outlet will need to record your name and address.

These records must be kept throughout the national state of disaster and for six weeks after the state of disaster ends.

Employees will also need to be screened both before and after their shift. This is in addition to all staff wearing masks, using hand sanitiser and sanitising everything from surfaces to food containers.

Sitting down for a meal

The dining experience at many restaurants is set to change a lot and we aren’t sure how many South Africans will feel about the regulations behind those changes.

For one, restaurants need to ensure that there is at least 1.5m distance between diners. For many restaurants this will mean removing chairs and tables to enforce this distancing.

Masks will need to be worn at all times except while eating or drinking. If you take that to mean you don’t really need a mask, think again.

The regulations clearly state that a restaurant, fast food outlet or coffee shop must refuse entry to a person who is not wearing a cloth mask or homemade item that covers their nose and mouth.

Guest will also be required to complete a screening questionnaire so as to protect both the guest and other people at the restaurant. Upon completing this questionnaire, a guest may be denied entry.

As for buffets, those are sort of out. We say sort of because only employees will be able to handle food at a buffet provided it is behind perspex or they are using a mask or similar face shield.

As for menus, restaurants will need to provide no-touch menus or alternatively sanitise menus after each use. Tablecloths and other extraneous items should be removed from the table and only salt and pepper should remain – so long as they are regularly sanitised.

All in all, “popping in for a quick bite to eat” appears to be a thing of the past.

These regulations bring a degree of complexity to the dining experience and we are interested to see how these are received.

After months of being closed we’re sure that restaurants are eager to reopen but whether South Africans will be willing to adhere to these regulations to have a meal with friends (because apparently visiting people at their homes is still too dangerous) remains to be seen.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]