Level 4: The waiter loses his job for the second time due to lockdown

The restaurant manager’s body language says it all. This photo was taken at Fat Cactus in Gardens, Cape Town, while watching President Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on Sunday night, when he announced that restaurants may now serve only fast food. Photo: Kylie Bush

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that table service in restaurants is again prohibited.
  • The waiters and restaurant staff, once again, were left without income.
  • Ground Up spoke to a bartender who lost his job a second time, and he has a one-year-old to support.

For the second time, Tatenda lost a job in a restaurant due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I almost cried when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the ban on Sunday night,” says Tatenda, who only wants to use his first name.

He was working as a manager at Riverine Rabbit before it closed after the first shutdown last year.

He then started working as a waiter at The Shop in Sea Point and at Bao Down in Cape Town.

Bow Dawn is currently closed after Level 4 restrictions went into effect on Sunday. The store says it will not reopen.

Tatenda worked two shifts a week in each restaurant, from 17:00 to 22:00, at a rate of 300-500 rand per day.

His wife gave birth to a child during the strict lockdown period in March 2020.

“It came around the time I lost my paycheck,” Tatenda says.

He said:

My wife works, but living on one income is hard. We are renting a 1 bedroom apartment in Goodwood for 6800 rand. We need 3,000 rand to pay the person who helps take care of the baby, money to buy diapers, formula, electricity and groceries. I was hoping to buy groceries this week when I was getting paid. We were looking at this week’s earnings to cover other expenses.

Tatenda feels the restrictions are too harsh.

He says that if social distancing rules are strictly enforced, alcoholic beverages banned, and the venue is well ventilated, restaurants may continue to operate.

Read also | Opposition parties decide to move Ramaphosa to the fourth level of restrictions

“Waiters are depressed. They are now sitting at home with no source of income. Morale is low. The government can also help restaurants with relief funding to avoid closing restaurants,” he said.

On Monday, Western Cape MEC Finance and Economic Opportunity, David Maynier, called on the national government to provide support to companies whose operations are limited or closed due to revised Tier 4 restrictions.

He said he had written to Employment and Labor Minister Thulas Inksesi to reopen the UIF Covid-19 Temporary Employer and Employee (TERS) program.

“Many businesses, particularly in the hospitality and liquor sectors, have already been hit hard by massive job losses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Wine farms, restaurants and cafes cannot survive on fast food alone.

“Two weeks of no income for these businesses, as well as movie theaters, gyms, casinos, convention venues, and theaters, will have a direct and sudden impact on people’s livelihoods and their ability to pay salaries, rent and buy food,” Maynier said.

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