Cabinet oks resumption of sit-ins at restaurants at half capacity

  • Sit in operations to resume
  • Decision comes after lamentations by restaurant owners on the negative effects of the strict measures that were in place

Harare – Cabinet on Tuesday approved the resumption of sit-in services in restaurants but at 50% of the sitting capacity following outcries by restaurant owners after President Mnangagwa eased lockdown restrictions on most of the economy at the beginning of March but maintained operational embargoes on the sector.

“Restaurants are now allowed to open for sit-ins at 50% sitting capacity, under strict adherence to COVID-19 guidelines.  Those found breaking the restrictions will be closed immediately,” the minister of information and publicity, Monica Mutsvangwa said in a post cabinet press briefing.

In a statement released at the beginning of March, Restaurant Operators’ Association of Zimbabwe (ROAZ) president Bongai Zamchiya, said the non-operational or partial-operational status of restaurants since March last year has created a massive problem for the trade, and up to half of existing operations are on the brink of permanent closure.

Zamchiya further stated that restaurants had exhibited that they had the capacity to operate safely when they were allowed to resume partial operations in the second half of last year following the initial lockdown and therefore the ban on full operations was not justified.

“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,” he said.

The chairperson also reiterated his proposal for the reopening of restaurants saying that restaurents were a big part of domestic and international tourism which is a significant revenue booster for the country.

“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.”

Contradicting to the initial restrictions that kept restaurants barely functional is that Zimbabwe is that Zimbabwean Tourism Authority (ZTA) launched a domestic tourism campaign titled #ZimBho in October 2020 aimed at keeping the sector alive amid the pandemic that choked international tourism.

Between 2018 and 2019 domestic tourism is reported to have raked in US$500 million and that amount had been forecasted to increase by 30% in 2020 but was however hindered by COVID-19.

Meanwhile, cabinet also approved the resumption of sporting activities under strict procedure and adherence to COVID-19 restrictions.

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