Restaurant owners have appealed for more relaxed Covid-19 regulations governing their operations, especially being allowed to operate at half capacity for sit-in customers, to ensure they remain afloat.
The operators have since handed over a position paper to the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority detailing their proposals.
Restaurant Operators’ Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Bongai Zamchiya said the non-operational or partial-operational status of restaurants since the Covid-19 lockdown in March last year had negatively affected them.
“We had hoped for re-opening of restaurants in the March 1 update announcement, with permission for half-capacity service for sit-down diners, but this has not happened,” he said. “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.
“The travel and tourism sector held a meeting with our Minister last week and we hope he will now take up our cause. Restaurants are key operators in the tourism space, which is a significant economic sector and traditionally earns a billion dollars in foreign currency.”
Mr Zamchiya said restaurants around the country varied in size from small stand-alone operations to large corporate operations, and for many this was the only source of income.
“When we were partially operational in the second half of 2020 we showed that safe and secure dining is possible and easy to achieve, and we are requesting urgent attention to our crisis, and that of our suppliers, from farming through to manufacturing,” said Mr Zamchiya. He said restaurant operators were still paying full licence fees despite partially operating for takeaways.